So I went into At the Water’s Edge blind, in that I knew the author’s name, but not a thing about the book. I had read Water for Elephants when it first came out years ago, and loved it, so I was pumped to pick up At the Water’s Edge and find Gruen’s style similar to her debut novel – lyrical and surprisingly contemporary for a historical fiction.
In the book, Maddie is married to Ellis, who is dependent on his family’s wealth. When they lose everything, Maddie goes to Scotland with Ellis and their wealthy friend Hank, in an effort to regain Ellis’ dignity back by finding the Loch Ness monster (though his father had fakes the pictures years before). While there, in a little inn in Scotland with the backdrop of the Great War, Maddie learns about herself, about her husband, about monsters, and about love – there are monsters all around her.
Warning: Spoilers for the book from this point on.
One thing I love about Sara Gruen’s writing is the way that she handles abuse and manipulation. You don’t see Ellis for the monster he truly is right away – it’s a gradual realization that comes along as Maddie sees it. And on the other hand, you don’t see Angus as the gentle protector or love interest until Maddie sees him that way. Sara makes sure that you see the world as Maddie sees it – when her naive bubble bursts, yours does as well, due to masterful writing.
My only complaint is that it felt like the story got overly long about three quarters of the way in. It could have been that I was just excited to read what would happen, it could be that I just wanted to see Maddie with Angus and not Ellis. I may never know.
What I do know, though, is that I’ll be looking for more by Sara Gruen. This read was amazing, and surprisingly quick!