Review of At the Water's Edge

In her stunning new novel, Gruen returns to the kind of storytelling she excelled at in Water for Elephants: a historical timeframe in an unusual setting with a moving love story. Think Scottish Downton Abbey.

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.


  •  Sara Gruen is such an amazing writer. I was once again, like with Water for Elephants, in awe of her character development. Each character, even the side characters, were so fully developed and had such a deep history. She really spent time preparing for her novel, charting each character and fleshing out who they are. I think it brings so much depth to the story when the characters really feel real and relatable.
  • Maddie was honest. She was such a great narrator and voice for the story. I sometimes feel like I want to hear the story from another character's POV, but choosing Maddie to lead the story was awesome. I loved her character, her self-doubt and her strength. 
  • The Loch Ness monster that lurks within the story was not as much of a precense as I thought it would be, but I loved how the story worked with the mythical (or is it) creature. 
  • The time period is one of my favorite to read about. This book was on the outskirts of the war, which I thought was interesting. You could see how it was for the people who were not fighting and not right in the middle of the action. I thought it was an interesting look at what it could have been like to be in a town that was not directly affected by the war, but still had to deal with the impact. 
  • The slow burn romance in this book was awesome. When they finally kiss, my heart melts. I don't want to spoil to much, but it was precious.


  • No major gripes. I guess I was really focused on the Loch Ness Monster in the synopsis instead of Maddie's social awakening, so I was hoping for a bit more of the mythical. But other than that, it was a great read.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23209927-at-the-water-s-edge

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2 comments

  1. I've been curious about this so I'm very glad to read your review. I really enjoyed Water for Elephants. And I had no idea the Loch Ness monster was part of the story. Must read!

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  2. I didn't read Water for Elephants. Well I tried to... This one sounds a little bit more interesting. Glad you really enjoyed it!
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

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