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.
"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 best-selling 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 Times best-selling 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 best-selling author of The Paris Wife)
"Eyre does a wonderful job with the multitude of voices and accents in the story, deftly switching between American and Scottish accents and subtly denoting character traits from personality to educational level. Gruen develops her characters, particularly Maddie, incredibly well over the course of the story, and Eyre's skillful narration ensures that listeners engage with Maddie on her journey of self-discovery." (AudioFile)
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Can't get past the narrator to finish the story.
I waited a long time for this book. "Water for Elephants" is still one of my all-time favorites. I'm so disappointed to write that I tried to listen to this book, but there must be something wrong with the Audible quality or the narrator's voice. I tried different speeds, but it's still like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard. I'm going to try reading this one.
The voice is intolerable to me. Not sure if it's a quality issue or the actual voice, but I just cannot listen to it.
Listen to reader before you buy
We really like Sara Gruen's work but this reader may not allow us to finish this book.
Readers are all personal taste but I just started the book in the car with my wife and we both could not continue listening. I tried playing at 1/2 speed but that did not work either, the reader seems to be trying to race to the finish. We will continue to try but thought I should post this now. If I finish I will redo this review.
- Stephen DiGiacomo