At the Water’s Edge

At the Water's EdgeAt the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am just not sure what this book wanted to be. Historical fiction? A love story? A story about Scotland, its culture and superstitions? It didn’t really do any of them very well. I pretty much hated all the characters until Maddie finally started to WAKE UP in the last third of the book. Rich, privileged Americans abroad during wartime and oblivious to the lives of the people around them. The love story angle kind of came out of nowhere. Throw in some hot sex and – no, it just wasn’t believable. The ending was satisfying (just) but utterly predictable. Over all I was rather disappointed with this book, so three stars is maybe generous. It wasn’t helped by a narrator whose affected British accent really made me cringe. Or laugh. I couldn’t decide. They all sounded vaguely Irish. Most definitely NOT Scottish. Okay, I’m changing my rating to a 2. The premise sounded really interesting. I love Scotland, and the idea of Americans hunting for the Loch Ness monster. And a good love story. The author has an okay rough draft here, but it should have been so much more. It might have worked better as a love story between Ellis and Hugh. They seemed so obviously gay, at least Hugh was…. but it was never developed. Or develop Maddie more. She was just so superficial for most of the book. Or develop the monster more. It, too, was a bit too ambiguous. The potential is there. It could make a really good TV movie with the right actors.

Book description: 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.

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