At the Water’s Edge, by Sara Gruen *****

bythewatersedgeBy the author of Water for Elephants comes a gripping tale of cowardice,deception, love, and heroism. My great thanks go to Net Galley and Random House for the DRC. It was a quick read and a great deal of fun.

The setting: World War II, primarily on a remote Scottish island. The story: three spoiled, wealthy, entitled brats misbehave publicly and are sent away by their chagrined parents. Since their allowance has been cut and they have to get gone anyway, they decide it might be just the thing to track down the Loch Ness Monster; not only will it be heaps of fun, but Father will be so pleased. He always wanted proof it existed! And what war? When one is wealthy enough, one cannot possibly be in danger! Just haul out the cash and start bribing others. Nothing to it, really!

Now we’re cooking. We’re on a remote Scottish island after endless seasickness aboard a ship that is constantly fired upon by u-boats. We have a crumbling castle; a Scottish warrior; a fainting damsel; a fiendish conspiracy; several working class heroes of both genders; a love story; and of course, there’s the loch! Get your gum boots ready; it’s soggy out there. Toss in a dash of magical realism, and we’re all set.

Gruen does a wonderful job developing Maddie Hyde, our protagonist, who receives more than one wake-up call whilst she is marooned on this island in the middle of a war that is now real and present. The treatment of husband Ellis and pal Hank is perfect; the writer is subtle, but not so subtle that we miss what’s happening. Angus is such a magnificent character that I found myself wondering what actor ought to play him when the movie comes out.

So I absolutely forbid you to regard this book as Water for Sea Monsters! No, no, no.

Gruen’s wonderful nugget will be released at the end of March 2015, just in time for spring break. If you’re going to be somewhere warm, it’s the perfect beach read. If you’ll be at home or in a cozy cabin watching the rain pound down, it’s the perfect curl-up-by-the-fire book.

Your reviewer isn’t usually fond of love stories, but for Sara Gruen, an exception will always be made. A must-read!

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