At the Water's Edge

At the Water's Edge: A Novel - Sara Gruen

“The monster – if there was one – never revealed itself to me again.  But what I had learned over the past year was that monsters abound, usually hiding in plain sight.”


And so concludes the most original story about World War II that I have ever read.  There is something about life during WWII that always seems to take on a romance unmatched by any other era and Sara Gruen showcases her talent for  beautifully telling a love story in At the Water’s Edge. 


In this gripping tale of heartbreak, privileged American Madilyn Hyde and her husband Ellis (and their goofy playboy bestie, Hank) embark on a journey to the Scottish Highlands to redeem themselves.  Or, at least that’s what the men set out to do – Madilyn just goes along for the ride.


And what a ride it turns out to be. 


With hopes of redeeming himself in his father’s eyes, Ellis Hyde takes his best friend and his wife on an adventure to a world where dinner is rationed, rules are strictly followed, and tomorrow isn’t a promise.  His quest – to film the Loch Ness Monster.  What seems like a fun adventure quickly turns into a nightmare.

Gruen writes a gripping and compelling story of folk lore that all at once examines the dynamics of female friendship, love and loyalty and more importantly – how one chain of events can shape the lives of so many.


I was beyond excited to read this novel – every Gruen book (and I’ve read them all) grabs me on page one and I am unable to tear myself from her words.  She writes with such depth and detail that it is easy to imagine yourself living inside the pages.  And her clear love for animals has endeared me to her work.  This one, however, was difficult to get into – maybe I was thrown by the nature of the “animal” in this one.  The Loch Ness Monster is a thing of the past, a mythical creature, a passing thought.  But, I read on and soon found myself unable to stop. 


At the Water’s Edge will keep you at your seats edge as Gruen paints the portrait of a woman in the most precarious situation – halfway around the world from home.  Watch yourself fall in love with Madilyn as she falls in love with a life she would have never imagined.  With a war raging and monsters taking on different forms, Gruen’s graceful narrative will propel you through a story that parallels that of the war.  It’s a story within a story.  A tragic love story in its purest form.  While this is not my favorite work by Gruen, it’s a close second.  But it is, by far, the most unique story I have read that takes place during WWII – an era that epitomizes the idea of monsters being real.  Usually hiding in plain sight…