I can’t remember if I’ve addressed this before, but I remember being told by several of my former teachers that they didn’t get much reading done during the school year. Since reading has been my main hobby ever since I successfully read Amelia Bedelia all by myself, I was baffled by this.
Now I am a teacher too and I completely understand. While I still love to read, some days I just want to come home and take nap, watch House Hunters on Netflix for hours on end, or stare at my ceiling fan. You know, something mindless that requires little to no effort on my part.
Consequently, I have read less this year than I have…probably ever. So the fact that the book I read last week was good enough to pull my out of my end of year testing caused stupor is really saying something.
I have been a huge fan of Sara Gruen’s for a long time. While most people probably know her for Water for Elephants, I first read her books Riding Lessons and it’s sequel, Flying Changes. After my years of reading young adult horse stories, these books were a refreshing and grown up change of pace- plenty of horses, but even more real life. Just how I like my books 🙂
While At the Water’s Edge doesn’t have any horses, I was totally okay with that. It follows socialite Maddie as she, her husband Ellis, and his best friend Hank head to WWII era Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. While Maddie is not particularly crazy about the plan, she finds herself with little choice after she and her husband socially disgrace themselves and are cut off by his wealthy parents. Now Ellis is seeking to prove himself by succeeding where his father failed, and Maddie is along for the ride.
Frequently left to her own devices while Hank and Ellis go monster hunting, Maddie at first finds herself woefully out of place in the inn where they stay. The gruff inn keeper, Angus, and the barmaids Anna and Meg don’t know what to make of their unusual guest and are temporarily put off by her obvious wealth and assumed snobbery. Slowly, though, Maddie befriends the locals and grows more and more suspicious of her husbands motives. She ultimately must make a dangerous decision regarding her future that could possibly wind up costing her everything- and everyone- she has come to love in Scotland.
This book reads much like Sara Gruen’s other novels- it’s realistic, at times humorous, and when I read certain parts (especially descriptions of a place or person, or of a strong feeling) it made me understand what Maddie seeing, or feel what she was feeling and experiencing. It’s relatable and smartly written, but never over done or excessive, which is one of the main things I consider the mark of a good book.
There’s also just enough intrigue and a slight element of mystery and unexpected twists that makes this book more of a page turner than some of Gruen’s other books. I certainly had a hard time putting it down, at any rate. Side note- after reading the author bio of this book, I did a little Googling and found out Sara Gruen lives about two hours away from me. Cue fan girl moment.