At the Water's Edge: A Novel
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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.
water even longer. I wondered how he’d explain the missing camera, or Hank’s version of events, because while he might be able to cast doubt on my testimony, that was not true of Hank, and I doubted very much that he would be easily quieted. Was it really the monster we’d encountered? We’d never know. Because of Ellis, no one would ever know. Chapter Forty-four My fitful trance was actually hypothermia, according to Dr. McLean, although, with an appreciative nod toward Mhàthair, he declared
around.” “Hank’s right,” said Ellis, still pushing the ashtray around. “You used to like adventures.” “I do like adventures, but sailing into the war is hardly an adventure!” “Then think of it as a scientific excursion,” Hank said calmly. “Honestly, Maddie. We’ll be perfectly safe. You can’t imagine I would even suggest it if I weren’t completely sure of that, and Freddie certainly wouldn’t have arranged it.” “Freddie?” I said with growing despair. “What’s Freddie got to do with this?” “He’s
didn’t answer me,” said Ellis. The corner of his right eye began to twitch. “I can’t,” I said, looking into my lap. “And why’s that?” “Because you were right.” “About what?” “About everything.” “Say it!” “Fine! There’s no silk purse! There’s only a sow’s ear!” He gave a bitter laugh. “Submission is a color that suits you, my dear. You should wear it more often.” “I suppose you would know,” I said, before turning toward the bar. Meg was serving slices of cake to an admiring audience.
failed to take the corner at High Street and crashed, cart and all, through the front window of Woolworth’s. While “badly cut about the shoulder,” the horse was rescued by a policeman and several soldiers, and was expected to make a full recovery. The sheer scope of detail and information, as well as its seemingly random placement, was proof to me that the world had both gone mad, yet remained the same as it ever was. Mass killings were described right next to information about laxatives.
looking wildly around. Meg’s siren suit was stashed under the chair. I grabbed it, then stood helplessly at the foot of her bed. I had no idea how to wrestle her into it. Angus and Conall showed up seconds later, before I had a chance to try. “Put that on yourself,” said Angus, when he turned the flashlight on me and saw what I was holding. “And grab the gas masks.” “The two of you go,” Meg cried. “I can’t make it.” “The hell you can’t,” said Angus. He thrust the flashlight at me, then scooped