At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

water's edgeSara Gruen (Water for Elephants) is a writer who I’ve always heard great things about, but I’ve never read her because none of her novels appealed to me. Until At The Water’s Edge. It’s set in the Scottish highlands and tells the story of three young Americans who, during World War II, come in search of the Loch Ness Monster. I like the time period, I like the setting and I like the Loch Ness monster.

Unfortunately, I was really disappointed by At The Water’s Edge. Perhaps my expectations were out of whack. I had thought that Gruen wrote literary fiction, but this was as light as light gets. The characters were hollow and one-dimensional. The protagonist, Maddie, was the weakest woman I’ve seen in literature in a long while. She was constantly getting weak in the knees at the mere sight of her love interest. Fainting spells were abundant, as was her need to be rescued.

I did, however, enjoy how Gruen delighted in the Scots language in much the same way as i do. She inserted here and there in a nice way. The weather was dreich. People sat down for a blether. They et cock-a-leeky soup. All the good words came out.

Who would like this book? Sara Gruen has her fans and, as it turns out, I’m not one of them. I think it’s because I had the wrong perception of her. At The Water’s Edge is not a literary novel. It’s a damsel in distress novel. Not quite my cuppa.


  1. After reading Water For Elephants, I was surprised by how light and romance-y this book felt. I pretty much agree with you, except I did find it funny in parts (although, maybe I wasn’t supposed to?). And, how about that cold porridge?

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