Book Review – At the Water’s Edge

Posted November 11, 2015 by Kathy in 3 Stars, Book Review / 2 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – At the Water’s EdgeAt the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
Published by Spiegel & Grau on March 31, 2015
Genres: Adult Historical Romance
Pages: 348
Format: Ebook
Source: Publisher
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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.

Purple My Review

I loved Sara Gruen’s Waters for Elephants so I was really excited to read At the Water’s Edge. But I am sad to say this wasn’t what I was expecting. Overall this was good but not great for me.


The main problem I had with At the Water’s Edge was the main characters.  I hated Maddie, Ellis and Hank!  They are spoiled rich kids who spent most of their time partying and getting drunk. The story is during World War II and these characters show no compassion or awareness of what is going on in the world. It is 1942 but with the amount of partying these 3 characters did I was confused to think it was the roaring 20’s.  Their behavior was shocking at a time when Hitler’s atrocities were being discovered. But I continued to read hoping the characters would redeem themselves. And at least Maddie did.  Being married to Ellis wasn’t perfect and filled with romance.  Ellis was excused from military service due to being colored blind. This was an embarrassment to his father thus causing problems at home.  After another drunken night Ellis’ behavior goes too far and he and Maddie move out of his parent’s home. Left with no income Ellis and Hank devise a plan to go to Scotland to find evidence of the Loch Ness monster. This discovery would help Ellis get in the good graces of his father, whose earlier claims of discovery were labelled as fake.  With no choice Maddie joins the men on an adventure to Scotland.


Maddie starts out as a spoiled, naïve girl.  But as they travel across the ocean we see this character’s eyes open to the reality of the world and the war. This change is what kept me reading this book. While in Scotland Maddie meets a likeable group of supporting characters that she forms a connection with. Their new friendships finally give Maddie a sense of family that she has been missing all of her life. She learns to stand up for herself and the people she cares about. Sadly the Loch Ness monster doesn’t play a key role in this story, but there is a supernatural twist in the story that was surprising.


At the Water’s Edge does not have the same magic I felt with Waters for Elephants so I didn’t love this book.  But the story was interesting and an easy read.

Rating Report
Overall: three-stars

About Sara Gruen

Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of five novels: AT THE WATER'S EDGE, APE HOUSE, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, RIDING LESSONS, and FLYING CHANGES. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz in 2011.

She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat.

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2 responses to “Book Review – At the Water’s Edge

    • Kathy

      This book was ok and it is hard to read when you don’t like the characters. It’s a shame since I really loved Water for Elephants.