What’s Bigger? The Secrets We Keep or the Loch Ness Monster?

Posted on August 24, 2016 «
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Book Review
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Several years ago I happened to purchase Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen on audiobook. I was fascinated by Sara’s storytelling abilities. Water for Elephants is one of the few audiobooks I listened to while doing something other than driving. And when I learned that Sara would be visiting Cedar Rapids this summer, I decided to pick up her latest release, At the Water’s Edge and give it a shot.

At the Water’s Edge had several things going for it. Set in NYC and Scotland during World War II and involving the Loch Ness monster, I was sucked in almost from the word go. I had visions of Claire (from Outlander) and her mysterious encounter at Loch Ness and I was intrigued that someone else might use the history of Loch Ness to weave a story.

I did race through At the Water’s Edge quickly. It was one of my summer vacation reads. Through most of the story, I felt like Gruen was just skimming the surface. Like Loch Ness, there is so much more going on below the surface, but Gruen doesn’t want to dive further. The characters seemed one note and the love story plot fell flat. It seemed as if the characters were supposed to get together because that was what was expected of them.

The most rewarding part of the story was Madeline’s discovery that living the high life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The little snatches of life in the Highlands during wartime and Maddie’s desire to become more that who she was kept me reading. I wanted to know where her journey would take her as her started seeing her husband and his friend for who they really were.

Is At the Water’s Edge a bad book? No, but it is a tad formulaic and the major characters are not likeable people.

Is there a Loch Ness monster? I’m still not sure, but sometimes the biggest monsters in our life are not the ones in the deepest of loches, but those secrets that rear their ugliest heads when we least expect them.


book review waters edge gruen


Reviewer’s Note: I did meet Sara when she visited Cedar Rapids in June. I did ask her my one burning question about Ellis and Hank. She confirmed that my suspicions were correct and that it wasn’t my English major brain reading between the lines.


The Quick Book Review

What’s Bigger? The Secrets We Keep or the Loch Ness Monster?

At the Water's Edge

Author: Sara Gruen
Published on: March 31, 2015
Pages: 348
Genres: historical fiction, adult, fairy tales & folklore
Goodreads • Amazon Affiliate Link
My Rating: Thumbs Up

About Sara Gruen

Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of five novels: AT THE WATER'S EDGE, APE HOUSE, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, RIDING LESSONS, and FLYING CHANGES. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz in 2011.

She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat.

(from GoodReads)



One response to “What’s Bigger? The Secrets We Keep or the Loch Ness Monster?

  1. Ah, yes, I see what you mean about the characters here! I dislike formulaic characters quite a bit- especially when there isn’t anything compelling about the romance. That makes me kind of bored hah. But the Loch Ness monster bit sounds interesting! I LOVE that you were able to get your question answered by the author though! This makes me want to go find a few of my favorites and ask them a few things 😉 Great review!