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. With his best friend, Hank, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel once 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 her life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.
(Story synopsis from book jacket of Spiegel & Grau edition)
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen was the August read for the Pi Beta Phi Book Club, Pi Phi Pages. I will admit that I have not yet read another book by Sara Gruen, although she had a very popular novel out not long ago, Water for Elephants. (I have this book on my to read list, but just have not gotten a copy yet.)
But I digress….with At the Water’s Edge I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had not heard of this book before. The start of the novel for me started out slow; I felt that a lot of start of the book involved whining and complaining from the characters. They felt entitled to the lifestyle that they were living even though they had not earned any of what they had. I found it hard to find the characters related, and in fact I kept putting the book down because I did not like them at the beginning.
However, I was intrigued by the setting of the second part (Scotland). Scotland is a country that I have a love for after having studied there for a semester while I was in college. Ellis and his best friend, Hank, along with Ellis’s wife Maddie, go on a trip to Scotland to prove that Ellis’s father was not a fraud in his claims that he had found the Loch Ness monster.
Maddie, Ellis and Hank find themselves not exactly warmly welcomed at the inn that they are staying at in Scotland. Ellis and Hank do nothing to make themselves welcomed in the area that they are in, or even to learn the traditions and the expectations of those around them. However, Maddie begins to see the problems that have been created because of their lifestyle and how it has affected those around them and the relationships they have with others.
Maddie also begins to learn more about the ways of life of other people, especially those who work at the inn, and begins to reevaluate her life as well. During the time that Maddie, Ellis and Hank are in Scotland, World War II is going on, and Maddie begins to realize the truth about her husband in relation to the war efforts.
The story that Gruen developed turned out to be a great read! I (as many of you may know), adore historical fiction novels, and this was another one that once I got started, I could not put down. There are so many things to be said about the decisions we make in life, however we can also make changes to find our true happiness. Sara Gruen, definitely made an impression on me through At the Water’s Edge and I will be making it a point to read her other novels.