Full disclosure: I have not read Water for Elephants or any other book by Sara Gruen. I haven’t seen the movie. A friend highly recommends Water for Elephants, and it’s on my “to read” list. So I thought when I had the chance to read the author’s new book, At the Water’s Edge, I would request it. I’m glad I did; I enjoyed it very much.
THE PLOT: Maddie Hyde grew up with a crazy mother and detached father, so she made a “society” marriage to escape. Her husband’s parents don’t approve of the marriage, and fear that Maddie will end up mentally ill like her mother. They ought to be more concerned about their son, though, whose obvious addiction is only the tip of the iceberg of his secrets. Ellis has avoided service in WWII by being conveniently colorblind. His and Maddie’s best friend, Hank, is also conveniently flat-footed, so the three of them spend their time partying while other people their age are at war. After a final, devastating falling-out with Ellis’s father on New Year’s Day 1945, the three friends leave Philadelphia for Scotland to search for the Loch Ness monster. This isn’t a random event; Ellis’s father was obsessed with hunting for the monster and was disgraced after being accused of fabricating his evidence. Ellis figures if they can get proof, his wealthy father will welcome him back into the fold.
Of course, traveling across the Atlantic during wartime is no picnic, and “accommodations” in Scotland are sketchy at best. The trio stay in a tavern run by Angus, a man who was previously believed killed in action. He has little use for Ellis and Hank’s shenanigans, but Maddie starts to grow up as she makes startling discoveries about her husband and marriage. She enjoys making her first female friends ever in the tavern workers and gradually begins to understand that despite her partying lifestyle, she hasn’t really been living at all. As Ellis becomes more and more sinister, Maddie begins to fear he’ll have her declared insane and locked up for good to take control of her money.
MY TWO CENTS: I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, and I had a little trouble getting into the first two chapters. After that, I became really involved and didn’t want to stop reading. I found Maddie a sympathetic character who grew throughout the book. I felt her situation becoming more desperate, and hoped she would eventually have the courage to get away from Ellis. I did feel that the storyline with Angus was predictable. Wondering how everything would be resolved kept my interest, though. I hoped Maddie would get a happy ending and Ellis would get what he deserved, and I wasn’t disappointed.
BOTTOM LINE: A really good read that I didn’t want to put down once I was into it. A little predictable toward the middle, but satisfying in the end.
TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: Available March 31, 2015, in hardcover and eformats.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.