At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
Two Roads (hardback), 2015
I won this book in a Good Reads giveaway.
After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colour-blind.
To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favour is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook).
Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe.
And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.
‘Oh God, make him pull over’, I said as the car swung round yet another curve in almost total darkness.
At the Water’s Edge is brilliant. I loved it. The characters are hunting the Loch Ness monster but this takes a side-line to the complicated relationships being played out. The search for the monster never quite takes centre stage so the novel never risks becoming a horror novel or a fantasy novel as it could have. I loved the setting. Gruen brings the Scottish village to life. I could almost taste and feel everything and could easily imagine myself there. I came over all Scottish and proud. There are moments in At The Water’s Edge when love , the warm and fuzzy kind take centre stage. To be honest, this is not the sort of novel I usually read and I was pleasantly surprised when I feel in love with it. The characters are well written and I loved the way they developed. There was enough love, troubled relationships, mystery and intrigue to hold my attention from start to finish. I’d highly recommend this novel.