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At the Water's Edge

Cover of At the Water's Edge

At the Water's Edge

A Novel
Borrow Borrow
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In this thrilling new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water's Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman's awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.

After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year's Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son's inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel's favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind.

The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.

As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life's beauty and surprising possibilities.
Praise for At the Water's Edge

"Breathtaking . . . a daring story of adventure, friendship, and love in the shadow of WWII."Harper's Bazaar

"A gripping, compelling story . . . Gruen's characters are vividly drawn and her scenes are perfectly paced."The Boston Globe

"A page-turner of a novel that rollicks along with crisp historical detail."Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Powerfully evocative."—USA Today

"Gruen is a master at the period piece—and [this] novel is just another stunning example of that craft."Glamour

"A captivating tale."—Us Weekly

"Compulsively readable . . . a rich, beautiful novel . . . at once a gripping love story, a profound examination of the effects of war on ordinary women, and a compelling portrait of female friendship."—Kristin Hannah

"Utterly winning."—The Miami Herald

"A compelling, enthralling read, a novel which captivates and rewards, paying off in a series of emotional and narrative twists . . . comfort reading of the highest order."—The Globe and Mail

"A super steamy love story."—Good Housekeeping

"Unique in its setting and scope, this impeccably researched historical fiction is full of the gorgeous prose I've come to expect from this author."—Jodi Picoult

"[Gruen] conveys the lure of the Scottish Highlands. . . . At the Water's Edge captivates with its drama, intrigue and glimpses of both the dark and light of humanity."BookPage
From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In this thrilling new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water's Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman's awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.

After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year's Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son's inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel's favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind.

The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.

As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life's beauty and surprising possibilities.
Praise for At the Water's Edge

"Breathtaking . . . a daring story of adventure, friendship, and love in the shadow of WWII."Harper's Bazaar

"A gripping, compelling story . . . Gruen's characters are vividly drawn and her scenes are perfectly paced."The Boston Globe

"A page-turner of a novel that rollicks along with crisp historical detail."Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Powerfully evocative."—USA Today

"Gruen is a master at the period piece—and [this] novel is just another stunning example of that craft."Glamour

"A captivating tale."—Us Weekly

"Compulsively readable . . . a rich, beautiful novel . . . at once a gripping love story, a profound examination of the effects of war on ordinary women, and a compelling portrait of female friendship."—Kristin Hannah

"Utterly winning."—The Miami Herald

"A compelling, enthralling read, a novel which captivates and rewards, paying off in a series of emotional and narrative twists . . . comfort reading of the highest order."—The Globe and Mail

"A super steamy love story."—Good Housekeeping

"Unique in its setting and scope, this impeccably researched historical fiction is full of the gorgeous prose I've come to expect from this author."—Jodi Picoult

"[Gruen] conveys the lure of the Scottish Highlands. . . . At the Water's Edge captivates with its drama, intrigue and glimpses of both the dark and light of humanity."BookPage
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the cover Chapter One

    Scottish Highlands, January 14, 1945

    "Oh God, make him pull over," I said as the car slung around yet another curve in almost total darkness.

    It had been nearly four hours since we'd left the naval base at Aultbea, and we'd been careening from checkpoint to checkpoint since. I truly believe those were the only times the driver used the brakes. At the last checkpoint, I was copiously sick, narrowly missing the guard's boots. He didn't even bother checking our papers, just lifted the red and white pole and waved us on with a look of disgust.

    "Driver! Pull over," said Ellis, who was sitting in the backseat between Hank and me.

    "I'm afraid there is no 'over,' " the driver said in a thick Highland accent, his R's rolling magnificently. He came to a stop in the middle of the road.

    It was true. If I stepped outside the car I would be ankle-deep in thorny vegetation and mud, not that it would have done any more to destroy my clothes and shoes. From head to toe I was steeped in sulfur and cordite and the stench of fear. My stockings were mere cobwebs stretched around my legs, and my scarlet nails were broken and peeling. I hadn't had my hair done since the day before we'd sailed from the shipyard in Philadelphia. I had never been in such a state.

    I leaned out the open door and gagged while Ellis rubbed my back. Wet snow collected on the top of my head.

    I sat up again and pulled the door shut. "I'm sorry. I'm finished. Do you think you can take those things off the headlights? I think it would be better if I could see what's coming." I was referring to the slotted metal plates our one-eyed driver had clipped on before we'd left the base. They limited visibility to about three feet ahead of us.

    "Can't," he called back cheerfully. "It's the Blackout." As he cranked up through the gears, my head lurched back and forth. I leaned over and cradled my face in my hands.

    Ellis patted my shoulder. "We should be nearly there. Do you think fresh air would help?"

    I sat up and let my head flop against the back of the torn leather seat. Ellis reached across and rolled the window down a crack. I turned toward the cold air and closed my eyes.

    "Hank, can you please put out your cigarette?"

    He didn't answer, but a whoosh of frigid air let me know he had tossed it out the window.

    "Thank you," I said weakly.

    Twenty minutes later, when the car finally came to a stop and the driver cut the engine, I was so desperate for solid ground I spilled out before the driver could get his own door open, never mind mine. I landed on my knees.

    "Maddie!" Ellis said in alarm.

    "I'm all right," I said.

    There was a fast-moving cloud cover under a nearly full moon, and by its light I first laid eyes on our unlikely destination.

    I climbed to my feet and reeled away from the car, thinking I might be sick again. My legs propelled me toward the building, spinning ever faster. I crashed into the wall, then slid down until I was crouching against it.

    In the distance, a sheep bleated.

    . . .

    To say that I wished I wasn't there would be a ludicrous understatement, but I'd only ever had the illusion of choice:

    We have to do this, Hank had said. It's for Ellis.

    To refuse would have been tantamount to betrayal, an act of calculated cruelty. And so, because of my husband's war with his father and their insane obsession with a mythical monster, we'd crossed the Atlantic at the very same time a real madman, a real monster, was attempting to take over the world for his own reasons of ego and pride.

    I would have given anything to go back two...
About the Author-
  • Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of At the Water's Edge, Water for Elephants, Ape House, 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.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Justine Eyre transports listeners to the mid-twentieth-century Scottish Highlands in Gruen's story of love and monsters. Maddie Hyde follows her husband and his best friend from Philadelphia to Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and regain the favor of Maddie's father-in-law. Eyre does a wonderful job with the multitude of voices and accents in the story, deftly switching between American and Scottish accents and subtly denoting character traits from personality to educational level. Gruen develops her characters, particularly Maddie, incredibly well over the course of the story, and Eyre's skillful narration ensures that listeners engage with Maddie on her journey of self-discovery. J.L.K. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 23, 2015
    Gruen’s (Water for Elephants) riveting fifth novel follows Philadelphia socialite Madeline Hyde; her husband, Ellis; and his best friend, Hank, on a quest to Loch Ness in January 1945 as they seek proof of the legendary monster, which Ellis’s father allegedly photographed 13 years earlier. Once the trio is ensconced in the tiny village of Drumnadrochit, Hank and Ellis begin disappearing for days at a time, leaving Maddie alone back at the inn with no ration card, no practical skills, and no emergency gear. She soon bonds with the locals—even Angus, the inn’s brooding, standoffish owner—and her newfound friendships help her cope with household chores and air raids alike. As the days drag on, Maddie begins to uncover truths about her family, as well as secrets about Ellis, that force her to reimagine her entire life as she knows it. A slow start gives way to mystery upon mystery, building to a gripping climax. Though some aspects, particularly an ambiguous brush with the supernatural, are a little pedestrian, Gruen’s beautiful setting and deeply sympathetic characters ensure a memorable read for new and returning fans alike.

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At the Water's Edge
At the Water's Edge
A Novel
Sara Gruen
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