The name Sara Gruen will strike a familiar chord for those of you who read Water for Elephants. I really enjoyed that book, but somehow I never got around to reading her second, Ape House, though I've heard wonderful things about it. I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to preview her latest novel, At the Water's Edge, especially because I think it may be her best yet.
Maddie Hyde is a young woman in Philadelphia high society whose husband, Ellis, has recently been financially cut off by his father. Ellis and his best friend Hank convince her that this is the perfect time to travel to the Scottish Highlands in search of the famous Loch Ness Monster. A running joke between them, they've talked for so long of finding the mysterious species, but Maddie is shocked to discover that this time they are serious. Her biggest objection is that there is a war on- World War II- and sea travel is highly dangerous. While difficult and likely ill-fated, this trip allows Maddie the opportunity to discover so much about herself and the people she thinks she knows.
This was a wonderful book and Gruen does a lovely job of telling Maddie's story while weaving in details about the horrors of war. Self-discovery is crucial in all of our lives, even when it is painful and through Maddie we are allowed a partner down the path. Fortunately, this is also done with quite a lot of entertainment value. Gruen's characters are well-written and concrete. You know a character is done well when you really hate him or her. The writing is also well done and the dialect is not too heavy handed, there is just the right amount to add a bit of flavor. This is the kind of book, that once I was able to sit and get a good start, I couldn't put it down. I had to force myself to go to bed at night. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you will as well.
And now for my favorite line in the book:
...monsters abound, usually hiding in plain sight.