At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen (♦♦♦½)

Maddie Hyde is married to Ellis, though her husband's best friend's presence in their marriage is so constant that it seems it has always been the three of them. Both Hank and Ellis have been turned down from war service for having medical issues.

In January of 1945, Ellis, Hank and Maddie travel to Scotland, ignoring the horror of the ongoing war, to pursue Ellis and his father's dream: to successfully film the elusive Loch Ness monster, basking in the fame and the glory of it all.

War will forever change Maddie making her more aware of the challenges surrounding the members of the small village at the water's edge, but will Hank and Ellis succumb under their pettiness and their twisted sense of reality?

At the Water's Edge doesn't have the humor and understated appeal of Water for Elephants, and it isn't the successful hodgepodge of Ape House but it does have its redeeming qualities.

Despite being a literary page-turner in which not much appears to be happening on the surface, it is the eye opening account of an outsider's perception of the Second World War through the snippets of news coming from the Front as listened to every evening's radio broadcasting. It is about how some members of prominent families, far removed from the horrors of war, dodged the call to serve, choosing instead to pursue idle pastimes while ignoring the chaos brought on by the fighting. It is also the dissection of a disintegrating marriage through every seemingly forgivable transgression, and the dangerous turn a relationship can take. It is in the end a story of hope and the redeeming power of true love.

While I didn't love At the Water's Edge, I stayed awake until the early hours of the morning while I was reading it and it managed to hold my interest throughout making me wonder what makes a good novel a great story. The ingredients were certainly there, but in my view it didn't pan out.

DISCLAIMER: I received from the publisher a free Galley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.                                                                                                  


  1. I had this one on my TBR for awhile, but took it off because I've been hearing so many mixed things. Sounds like it didn't blow you away.

    1. Well, Sarah...You like intense stories so I don't think this would do it for you. I still wonder what it was, maybe that it was more about a bad marriage than historical fiction, and there were paranormal elements in the story as well. As you say, the reviews are mixed and they tend to be all over the spectrum. I think I understand why.

  2. This book seems to be getting a lot of notice lately. Not surprising I guess considering the writer's track record. It's interesting to read your thoughts on it.

    1. It is very well written and held my interest. In fact I read it faster than I have been reading in the last few months, but I didn't think it was great; I still wonder why. Maybe because it was more about a crumbling marriage than WWII stuff.

  3. I was looking at this and thinking why do I know this author - Water for Elephants and Ape House of course!
    Good review - shame it didn't quite work out for you.
    Lynn :D

    1. The ingredients were there; I don't know why it didn't work, maybe because I was expecting another kind of story.
      Thanks for visiting, Lynn.


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