At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

At the Water's Edge

Sara Gruen is the author of five books. At the Water’s Edge, her fifth book has a release date of March 31, 2015. You may recall her book, Water for Elephants, which was not only a best seller but is a movie with Reese Witherspoon.


At the Water’s Edge tells the story of Madeline Hyde, her husband, Ellis and their friend, Hank and takes place in 1945.  World War II is the backdrop for the lives of these three  spoiled, rich 20 somethings.  While at a party in Philadelphia, the threesome disgrace themselves.  The next day when called on the carpet by Ellis’s father, the Colonel, a verbal fight ensues. Besides the scandal, it is evident that the embarrassment of his son not being accepted into the Army to fight in World War II has affected the Colonel. In a fit of temper, Ellis brings up a public scandal that the Colonel was involved in and it is more than the Colonel can take.  He immediately cuts off Ellis and Madeline.

To try and redeem them in the Colonel’s eyes, Ellis and Hank hatch a plot to go to Scotland to clear the Colonel’s name.  They think that if they can vindicate the Colonel then he will bring Ellis and Madeline back to their former lifestyle.

Yes, the three of them sail to Scotland while World War II is being fought. This is perhaps a demonstration of how out of touch and self centered these characters are. Once they get to Scotland, Madeline becomes aware of how spoiled and sheltered they have been. When faced with an existence without parties and servants, the three must choose whether to accept real life.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland


The book is well written and the story moves along and draws you in to see what will happen. I will admit that having the characters sail to Europe during the War at the beginning of the story asks you to suspend your beliefs but I think you will find it worthwhile.

The story expands to tell you about rural Scottish life during the war.  This is a time when if the postman rings the bell it is no longer a doorbell but a death knell.  In this background, love grows and dies.  Inhabitants in the village find happiness where they can. Madeline grows as a character to find herself and what is important to her. There are also  interesting historical references regarding women’s rights (or lack thereof.)

I liked the book.  I think the story is interesting and has several plot twists and struggles.  It is a period piece with characters that exhibit personal growth during the story.

Thanks for reading!

About Carol Early Cooney

I love to read. I love to share my thoughts on books and hope to hear what you think also. Looking to see what books I read beyond those I write about? Check out my Goodreads!
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5 Responses to At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

  1. One of my favorite eras (to read or watch) is the 1940’s, especially during the war overseas and in the US. I think I’ll check this one out. Thanks.

  2. Bonnie Vesely says:

    I’m looking forward to publication of this one! Interesting note: my friend was selling her gorgeous house in Asheville several years ago, and Sara Gruen bought it. I’m envious. It had all kinds of great nooks for a writer to work in, including the greatest screened-in front porch/veranda I’ve ever seen – the kind of huge veranda you could live on. A long hallway with cushy window seats and bookshelves, overlooking a stream. Beautiful landscaping. I hope that Sara and her family are enjoying it!

    And like Mona, I really enjoy books set in that era. Thanks for this review!

  3. Julia Tomiak says:

    I enjoyed Water for Elephants and would like to give this a try. Thanks for the review. Another blogger said that although she normally doesn’t like rich, pretentious characters, this novel pulled her in.

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