Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Review: At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

Members of the Vise Library were given an advance copy of At the Water's Edge.   We received a copy of Sara Gruen's book for an honest review.

About the book:

In this thrilling new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water’s Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman’s awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.
After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind. 
The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.
As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.

This is only the second book by Sara Gruen that I have ever read.  I read Water for Elephants before the movie was released and really enjoyed that book.  I was excited for the opportunity to read this book before publication.  This story is set in the WW2 time period with the main characters of Maddie, who is Married to Ellis and their friend Hank.  Ellis has a very big falling out with his parents who then cut Ellis and Maddie off financially.  The characters try to get back on the good side of Ellis' parents by going on a search for the Loch Ness monster.  This journey starts out as a way to look for Nessie, but in a way is more about the journey (to me anyways) of Maddie.

This story takes you through WW2 and the Scottish countryside.  You are able to see how the war affected the people and towns during this time.  Maddie starts to make several friends and you really care about the locals in this story.  I think Gruen did a great job of showing how the locals were struggling during this time.  In a way this reminded me of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale (Hannah's book is set in France, not Scotland).  This time period had so much devastation and loss and Gruen really depicts this to make you feel for the people that lived through this time.  As Maddie's eyes are opened throughout the story, she becomes a completely different person (in a good way).  I think it's great when characters start to become more aware of themselves and life in general and Maddie does just that.  If you enjoy books from this time period and books about people seeking an adventure, then you will enjoy this book!

About the author:

I am a transplanted Canadian (now also an American citizen) who moved to the States in 1999 for a technical writing job. Two years later I got laid off. Instead of looking for another job, I decided to take a gamble on writing fiction. 

I live with my husband, three children, two dogs, four cats, two horses, and a goat in North Carolina.

Connect with the author:
·         Facebook
·         Twitter
·         Website 

Buy the book:

·         Amazon

Praise for At the Water’s Edge
“If I needed a reminder why I am such a fan of Sara Gruen’s books, her latest novel provides plenty. Unique in its setting and scope, this impeccably researched historical fiction is full of the gorgeous prose I’ve come to expect from this author. And even after the final page, its message still resonates with me: The monsters we seek may be right in front of us. In fact, the only fault I can find with this book is that I’ve already finished it.”—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time
“I devoured this book. Once again Sara Gruen has proven herself to be one of America’s most compelling storytellers. You might be tempted to rush to get to the answers at the end—but don’t, or you’ll miss the delectable journey that is Gruen’s prose.”—Kathryn Stockett, New York Timesbestselling author of The Help
“Magical . . . At the Water’s Edge skillfully transports us to a small, tenacious Scottish village in the grip of war, and into the heart of Madeline Hyde, a woman who is a stranger to herself until forces convene to rock her awake. Sara Gruen is a wizard at capturing the essence of her historical setting, and does so here in spades, but it’s Maddie’s unexpected transformation that grounds and drives the novel.”—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife
At the Water’s Edge is a rich, beautiful novel. Elegantly written and compulsively readable, it is at once a gripping love story, a profound examination of the effects of war on ordinary women, and a compelling portrait of female friendship.”—Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author ofThe Nightingale

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