Anyone who knows me, knows I am completely obsessed with the 2006 novel “Water for Elephants.” I wholeheartedly believe it is the best written romance novel of our time. It is one of my favorites, and don’t even get me started on the movie. Few movies make me weep tears of joy at the end, but “Water for Elephants” does.
The author of this deeply loved novel—Sara Gruen—recently released another book “At the Water’s Edge.” I was so excited to check it out and see what this fascinating author has been up to since creating one of my favorite reads.
The thing about Sara Gruen that I love so much is that her stories are so original. Until “Water for Elephants” I hadn’t ever read a novel about circus workers. I’m sure there are a few out there, but what I mean is that this concept wasn’t some idea that’s been done over and over. It was different than every other novel I had ever read. Her newest novel is even more creative and original than the last.
“At the Water’s Edge” follows Madeline Hyde in her story of self-discovery. When her rich in-laws kick her and her husband Ellis out of their mansion in Philadelphia and cut them off financially, Ellis gets the crazy idea in his head that the two of them along with his best friend Hank should travel to the village of Drumnadrochit, Scotland in search of the Lock Ness Monster. Normally this would be a bad idea, because everyone knows the Lock Ness Monster is just a myth, but it’s even worse of an idea due to the fact World War II is raging in Europe.
Almost against her will, Maddie decides to tag along to Scotland. What she doesn’t know is that her entire life is on the verge of change, and sometimes change is a really good thing. Everyday Hank and Ellis leave her to go search for the Loch Ness Monster. In the meantime, Maddie becomes close to the locals and imagines how life could be outside of her privileged upbringing. She discovers there is so much more to life than parties, money and keeping up appearances. In the journey to find a monster, she finds herself.
Gruen writes period pieces with beautiful eloquence and wonderful word choice. Granted I’ve never lived in Scotland during WWII, I felt like I was actually in the story. Her visual articulation captivates readers, and her stories are laced with characters who seem real and relatable. While I wouldn’t say her newest work is as good as its predecessor, I quite enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone.
“At the Water’s Edge” has everything I look for in a story—romance, adventure, adversity, hope. It is the perfect book to cozy up next to the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and read as the chilly weather creeps in.
I will always hold a special place in my heart for “Water for Elephants” and will probably always be a little biased towards it. After reading “At the Water’s Edge,” though, I am certain there is room in my heart for a few more favorites.