Review: At the Water’s Edge

Book Title: At the Water’s Edge

Book Author: Sara Gruen

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “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 colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor 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.”

Ellis and Maddie Hyde are a young married couple, coasting along in high society on the “allowance” of Ellis’s high society parents.  When they are cut off financially after utterly humiliating themselves at an extravagant New Year’s Eve party, Ellis and his friend Hank decide to travel abroad to Scotland in the midst of World War II in the hopes of finding evidence of the Loch Ness monster, something that Ellis’s father had attempted years before, and a journey that they hope will put them back in the family’s good graces.  Being used to living a life of luxury, the trio are quite unprepared the journey that they are about to undertake, as well as the dangers that they encounter.

Despite the fact that she started out in the book as basically kind of a spoiled rich girl, I did end up really enjoying the character of Maddie.  While Ellis and his friend Hank continued on with their entitled attitudes (and became more and more unlikable with each passing chapter), Maddie underwent a radical change.  Travelling to Europe during the second War World had a life altering affect on Maddie.  The war was no longer something she read about in the newspapers, or discussed at parties…it was real and she could see the devastation for herself.  The book begins with a haunting prologue, and I wasn’t sure how that would fit in with the rest of the story, but when I finally realized how that short passage intertwined with the main story line, I found myself completely immersed in this novel.  Highly recommend for historical fiction fans!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

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