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At the Water's Edge

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  73,647 ratings  ·  8,479 reviews
After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind.

To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Spiegel & Grau
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Ruth No. This book was a major disappointment. I could not even finish it. The characters were so shallow and boring I did not care what happened to them.

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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  73,647 ratings  ·  8,479 reviews

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First of all, I understand all the less than stellar reviews as the plot really is ridiculous......taking a trip across the Atlantic to Scotland in search of the Loch Ness monster, during wartime no less, just so a young spoiled son of a rich man can get back into his father's good graces, salvage his "full" allowance and move back into the family mansion? Really.......

But then I read the prologue and the gravestone and the story about Mairi, the loss of her infant daughter, the telegram of her

Water for Elephants, set in Scotland, with the Loch Ness Monster instead of Rosie the Elephant.


I will just go ahead and tell you right now, that this book opens with three of the most unlikeable characters you can possibly imagine. You might even ask yourself why you would want to continue reading several hundred pages about the vapid lives of a bunch of over privileged American brats. In response I say, yeah, I thought the same thing.

Maddie, her husband El
Angela M
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it
2.5 stars rounded up.
The place and history are well depicted here but I found it difficult to connect with Maddie , the main character until I was at least halfway through the book . When the connection between the opening story and the present story became apparent, I became more interested but it was a bit too predictable. I did like Anna and Meg and Angus and I couldn't help but feel for Maddie and these people .

Maybe because I had just finished reading a deeply moving and heartbreaking bo
Carol Brill
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sara Gruen is a wonderful writer and storyteller. I've read four of her books and loved every one.
At The Water's Edge started slow for me, taking 6 or 8 chapters for me to get attached to the narrator, Maddie. At the start, she, her husband Ellis, and their best friend, Hank, are spoiled, entitled, upperclass twenty something's who show little respect. When their over the top behavior gets them kicked out of Ellis' parents' house, they decide to go to Scotland. In spite of being in the midst of
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it
It's been so long since I read Water for Elephants that I only really remember the feeling I got when I read it, and not necessarily any of the finer plot points or the writing style. And At the Water's Edge is not quite that - it didn't excite me or lift my heart the way Water did, but I still liked it in its own right.

First of all, I loved the whole idea of the book - Maddie, her husband Ellis, and their very close friend Hank (a very cozy threesome) live a luxurious, lazy party life - World W
Althea Ann
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Does this sound appealing to you?
'The Great Gatsby' meets 'Outlander'?

It's not precisely what this book is - it's set during WWII, not the 1920's, and the Romance With A 'Highlander' is in the 'present' day, no time travel involved... but if the concept sounds good, you'll probably like this book.

Oh, and throw in the Loch Ness Monster.

Three filthy-rich American douchebags decide to go the Scotland in the middle of the war to search for the Loch Ness monster, get stinking drunk, and act like ent
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pitch perfect atmosphere, characters who grow and develop, who anger and impress and please, a story line that ebbs and flows and builds in intensity until you are utterly submerged in the story - turning pages faster than you want to because you want to do the writing justice but you also have to find out what happened. At the Water's Edge is the the kind of novel that restores one's faith in humanity -- and in great writing. It was an honor to read it.
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: that coworker you don't know much about
Sara Gruen is like Sarah Waters Lite. Or Sarah Waters washed out, perhaps. The history in Gruen's historical fiction felt incidental. WWII just happened to be raging in the background while her characters raged at each other in the foreground. I didn't mind the "lite" history, but it was jarring when she'd suddenly insert a 2 paragraph update on the war. And that's what it felt like- a calculated insert. "Oops, haven't reset the scene in a while, let's make mention of those Allied troops one mor ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it very hard to put down. It was a teeny tiny bit less good than Water for Elephants but still a five star read for me. The three rich, spoilt Americans were suitably awful and the Scottish setting was well drawn. The whole thing was set to a background of World War Two and we accessed the details of this as the main character did by reading the local newspaper, always a few days late and not always completely accurate. I enjoyed watching Maddie develop f ...more
Elyse  Walters
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I really enjoyed the beginning of this story, starting with "The New Years Eve Party".

For me --the strengths of the book are the characters. They each seem go through personality and behavior changes --especially *Ellis and Maddie* (the married couple). *Hank* is their best friend. I

Pill popping whiskey drinking *Ellis* is colored blind -- which keeps him from going to war. He is complex -- he can go from 'good guy' to 'sleazbag' in the matter of seconds. I found him to be quite interesting.

Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, historical
I didn't like Water for Elephants. In fact, I hated it. I stopped reading it with 50 pages left, tossed it in the library donation bin and have refused to pick up anything by the author since. Until now. The combination of a historical set in Scotland during WW2 with 'Nessie' thrown in for good measure, was just too enticing not to try; even for me. I kind of envisaged something a bit like the film 'The Water Horse'.

For the first hundred pages or so I cursed my curiosity for getting the better o
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So very, excrutiatingly, needlessly, over-dramatically, agonizingly over-written. The pathos practically drips off the pages with no humor and very little action to provide release.

And it's really a shame, because Gruen has a good story and has some good characters I really wanted to care about. But, my God, ease up a little.

The same is true for the historical fiction aspect. What she did so remarkably in Water for Elephants in opening up a hidden world, she fails at here. It felt more like she
Whitney Atkinson
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

This book was enjoyable! I listened to most of it on audiobook, and I would recommend it because it was interesting enough to capture my attention for the entirety; not a single part dragged and made me play the audiobook at 3x speed just to get through it.

The main downfall to this book is that there's so many facets to it, and it doesn't necessarily check each of those boxes completely. There's romance, but it's not a romance story. It's historical fiction, but it's not a World War II
The author Sara Gruen has indicated in several online interviews that she has held a long-standing fascination with the Loch Ness monster starting at the age of twelve when she first visited Urquhart Castle. As such, a monster-related plot creates a backdrop for Ms. Gruen's historical fiction novel At the Water's Edge. Although unique, it's just there in the background allowing more impressive themes to shine, such as war, culture, gender roles in history, friendship, marriage, love, mental heal ...more
Some books are challenging to rate. The Waters Edge is case in point: summation of its parts didn't equate a grand whole.

Many of the literary elements, such as symbolism, foreshadowing, the infusion of mythic folklore, and atmosphere as a character, were all quite good. Maddie's character growth/transformation was notable. And I thought the 'monster' theme represented throughout in terms of war, mental illness, alcoholism, greed, jealousy enriched the story immensely.

Then too, there were many t
(Nearly 3.5) Gruen does a great job of bringing her settings and time periods to life. The first third or so of the novel was particularly promising, as she introduces her characters in upper-crust wartime Philadelphia and then sends them to rural Scotland on a hunt for the Loch Ness monster. I especially enjoyed the Hollywood-esque love triangle of the early sections – Hank and Ellis buzzing around Maddie made me think of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire fighting over the female lead in Holiday Inn ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apr-15
I thoroughly enjoyed Like Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen, and was thrilled to be given the opportunity to read this authors latest novel, At The Water's Edge.
Set during WWII, Maddie, her husband Ellis and his best friend Hank leave their pampered high society lives in Philadelphia after falling out of grace with family. To prove themselves they cross the ocean, during this tumultuous time, in search of the Loch Ness Monster. They quickly discover a whole new world they are not accustomed to
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. Reads like the author took her half finished WWII era novel and threw it in a blender with a Highland romance she was thinking about. Mixed that up sprinkled it with some humor. Then finished off with some nice cliches throughout.
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book! 5 stars! Beautifully written and left me wanting more. I love stories of war and love and Gruen drew me right into this one as she did with Water for Elephants. Would love to see a sequel to this to see where the characters went from the end.
The pounding headache that Maddie Hyde was suffering after the New Year’s Eve party the night before had her cringing – she tried desperately to remember the events of the latter part of the evening and when she did she realized with horror that she and her husband Ellis had made dreadful fools of themselves. Along with best friend Hank the three had disgraced themselves in front of many of the high society elite at the Philadelphia event.

In quick succession, Ellis’ mother and father were morti
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it
The idea of three wealthy young Americans sailing off to Scotland in the middle of WWII just to try to prove that the Loch Ness monster was real and to salvage the reputation of one of their fathers seemed rather silly and far-fetched to me. But I was engaged by the dangerous adventure itself and their aim to prove some things to the world, and not just that the monster existed. The men, Ellis and Hank, have been outcast from society and from their own families because, due to color blindness an ...more
Veronica Moore
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
A vapid protagonist makes for a vapid read. Anecdotal history scattered haphazardly throughout (a stretch to use the tragedies of WWII to bolster a tepid story) successfully clarified only how uninterested I was in the main plot: the Loch Ness Monster search by a true-life monster of a husband? And even then, his monstrosity was less convincing than that of the Nessie herself.

Sad to give such a lackluster review, particularly when Water for Elephants has such magic. Subsequent work will always n
Nov 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
I had a difficult time finishing this book. I absolutely loved Water for Elephants and was excited to dive into At the Waters Edge, but I just did not enjoy it in any way.

Part of this may have been the fact that I listened to it on Audiobook, and the narrator was damned awful. I will not listen to another book narrated by the same person.

That aside, I believe most of my dislike for it lays with the characters and story itself. I didn’t feel any connection or really even particularly like Matti
I liked this novel. It is a bit of a quiet story that mostly takes place in a Scotland village. Maddie joins her husband, Ellis, and their friend, Hank, to search out the Loch Ness monster during the end of WWII. These characters are privileged socialite snobs from Philadelphia. The story of the search for the monster is really a backdrop for the personal growth of Maddie into a stronger, more confident woman. They stay at an inn where Maddie is regularly left alone while Ellis and Hank search f ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Farfetched. Fun. Loch Ness Monster. Lobotomies, oh my!

I really found myself enjoying this lighthearted romp through Inverness. Maddie Hyde, her husband Ellis and their dear friend Hank Boyd find themselves living a Gatsby-esque lifestyle while both Ellis and Hank cannot enlist due to color blindness and flat feet. Ellis finds himself falling from his father's grace and decides to "save the day" by going to Scotland to capture the Loch Ness Monster on film- a feat his father attempted bu
Jun 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
40% in and I'm throwing in the towel. I don't care what happens, not vested in characters or book. May try again, may not. Time to move on.
The epilogue to this book is a nice hook. It draws you in and makes you want to know more. Unfortunately, that is not the story Gruen is telling, Mairi isn't even a character in this tale, it is Maddie's story, and Maddie's story is a cliche waiting to happen.

I was OK with the oblivious rich people aspect in the beginning, but that started to wear thin. I became interested in the locals of this Scottish village and then that dissolved into either unrealistic or overly predictable fare. Gruen di
Dec 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
This would make a beautiful movie--just think of Scottish lairds, old Philadelphia upper-crust parties, war shots, hints of ghosts and Nessie. I'd watch that movie.

Reading is different than watching, though. The reason why the main characters (Maddie-Ellis, husband-wife and friend Hank, all snobbish rich brats) to go Scotland during the last six months of WWII for Nessie-watching isn't believable to me. By the time more suspension of belief is needed, well, mine was all used up.

I didn't like m
Sara Gruen. I have not read "Riding Lessons" because I have no interest in the equestrian world whatsoever. I did, of course, read "Water For Elephants". I really liked that one.

Like in that novel, "At the Water's Edge" exemplifies Gruen's conscientious research. Like she demonstrated it in her historical circus exploration. She covers World War II overseas, focusing on a search for the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie for short- so that readers can still enjoy her wonderful imagination and whimsical
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
I should have quit this book a few chapters in and used my reading time on a better book. Goodreads has definitely changed my thoughts on quitting books. Listing them on my DNF shelf shows the reading world I gave up and marks it in my reading history as a failure. I can’t like that. Some people are competitive with others, but I am extremely competitive with myself.

What was this book about?

A girl and her two male best friends (one being her husband) live in the lap of luxury at the expense of
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Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of five novels: AT THE WATER'S EDGE, APE HOUSE, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, RIDING LESSONS, and FLYING CHANGES. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christ ...more

Articles featuring this book

A Philadelphia socialite and her husband hunt Scotland's Loch Ness monster in At the Water's Edge, a new World War II-era novel from the author of...
38 likes · 15 comments
“I paused beneath the arched entrance, where the drawbridge had once been, imagining all the people who had passed in and out over the centuries, every one of them carrying a combination of desire, hope, jealousy, despair, grief, love, and every other human emotion; a combination that made each one as unique as a snowflake, yet linked all of them inextricably to every other human being from the dawn of time to the end of it.” 11 likes
“The monster—if there was one—never revealed itself to me again. But what I had learned over the past year was that monsters abound, usually in plain sight.” 10 likes
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