At the Water’s Edge
by Sara Gruen
I loved this book! At the Water’s Edge was brilliant, moving, captivating, and thrilling. I loved every second and I am just floured by Gruen’s ability to write. It is as if you are right there with the characters, seeing what they see and feeling what they feel. I just got swept away. I loved the plot and the characters and the journey that Maddie (the main character) takes.
Maddie is a privileged woman in 1940’s Philadelphia. She is married and enjoys a life filled with nightly parties and sleeping in until noon. She does nothing herself and has no cares, except one. Her husband is color blind and is “unfit” to fight in WWII, so they are ostracized from family and friends, especially by her in-laws, who have cut Ellis’ allowance down and forced him and Maddie to move in with them. Ellis is tired of his parents’ lack of understanding and wants to get away. He decides to sail to Drumnadrochit, Scotland with his best friend, Hank, and Maddie to search for the Loch Ness Monster. Maddie is opposed, but she sees that this is what Ellis really needs and so reluctantly agrees. After a horrendous journey, where Maddie witnesses the horrors of war, they arrive in Scotland and get settled in a little inn. Maddie is restless and upset, while Ellis and Hank are rude and inconsiderate. They continue in their poor attitudes as they dive into their search, while Maddie is soon left behind. Spoilers: As time goes on, Ellis and Hank show more of their true selves, especially Ellis. They get drunk every day and when they return to the inn Ellis is rude, bordering on cruel, to Maddie. For a while, Maddie has been diagnosed with a heart condition. She is hesitant to take her pills, only ever having one, while Ellis helps himself to her medication. In Drumnadrochit, Ellis steals more and more of her pills, which begins to worry Maddie. Ellis also leaves her behind on several overnight trips, not telling her when he is coming back. At first Maddie is hurt, but as she sees more and more of Ellis’ despicable behavior, she starts putting two and two together, culminating with the realization that Ellis is faking being color blind. All this time, Maddie has been forming friendships with the two girls who work at the inn and the owner, Angus (who is kind, generous, and quiet, having tragically lost his wife and baby three years earlier). Maddie has begun helping with the housework while Ellis is away and becoming a part of the community. She has also fallen in love with Angus and he with her. Things come to a head when Ellis realizes that Maddie has figured out his secret. He is clever though and begins putting his plan into action: he arranges things so that Maddie looks like she is crazy and needs a lobotomy, frames Angus for poaching, and fakes a picture of the Loch Ness Monster. He leaves with Hank to get his picture and then the police come to take Angus away. What they don’t know is that Angus is actually the laird and has been “poaching” off his own land, so they can’t arrest him. In delight, Maddie leaves to lord it over Ellis and demand a divorce. She arrives at the lake and catches Ellis in the boat. He gets angry and she gets knocked over the edge. Instead of helping Maddie, Ellis tries to drown her. Angus has been close on Maddie’s heals though and rescues her. When Hank realizes Ellis’ real character, he beats him up and follows everyone back to the inn. It is a close call for Maddie, but she pulls through and then finds out that Ellis drown in a few inches of water after being beat up by Hank. No charges are pressed and Maddie and Angus are free to be together. They get married, have children, and open up their huge house to recovering soldiers! It is beautiful to see Maddie grow from a proud, ignorant woman, to a kind, helpful, generous woman. She truly grows and I was so happy that she was able to be rid of her awful husband and be truly happy and fulfilled.
Summing it up: I absolutely recommend this book! It was incredible and I can’t say enough good things about it!
All the best, Abbey