Cherie Reads

Review: At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

At the Water's Edge: A Novel - Sara Gruen
Maddie, Ellis and their friend, Hank are wealthy socialites who live a life of luxury.  They are spoiled and rude and entirely unlikable.  After making the perilous journey by ship to Scotland (during war-time I might add) the two men pretty much abandon Maddie while they hunt for the elusive Loch Ness monster.  Throughout the rest of the book we follow Maddie as she turns from a spoiled, pampered brat to a strong woman who develops new friendships, learns compassion for others and discovers what true love is really like. Readers looking for a story with a great setting and lots of character development will enjoy this one as I did. 
The book is relatively slow moving.  There's not a whole lot going on in terms of plot except Maddie getting to know the locals, and herself. Her wealth and privilege have sheltered her from most of the horrors of war and her realizations of how the other half lives is staggering for her.  As the book progresses, Maddie slowly turns from a spoiled socialite into a woman who cares for others and wants to help.  She starts to understand the ridiculousness of the world she used to live in.  Her husband, Ellis, and their friend, Hank, have no such epiphanies so when they return their scenes are increasingly uncomfortable for both Maddie and the reader. 
I especially loved the setting.  The descriptions of the countryside, the people and even the rooms in the inn really make you feel like you're there with Maddie.  You can feel the cold, see the water, the castle, the bomb shelter.  
There were a couple of things I didn't really like.  First, the romance here didn't really feel as developed as it should have.  We go from lots of glances and a couple of words to full on bedroom scene with not a whole lot of development in between.  I wouldn't call it insta-love, but I would have liked more.  Second, the ending was all a little too neat for me. All the loose ends were wrapped up in a pretty bow and I just wasn't buying it. 
Overall, despite those things, I really enjoyed this book.  I loved reading about Maddie's personal journey.  I loved some of the supporting characters and really loathed others - as the author intended. The romance was sweet and there's a happy ending which is always nice.  I loved the descriptions and setting and the general atmosphere. Over the couple of days it took me to read it, I was always eager to pick it back up.  Readers looking for an adventure about looking for the Loch Ness monster will be disappointed.  Readers looking for an in-depth story about WWII will be disappointed.  However, readers who enjoy character development, a great setting, historical fiction and light romance will enjoy this one.  I recommend it. 
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.