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.
©2015 Sara Gruen (P)2015 Random House Audio
"If I needed a reminder why I am such a fan of Sara Gruen's books, her latest novel provides plenty. 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. And even after the final page, its message still resonates with me: The monsters we seek may be right in front of us. In fact, the only fault I can find with this book is that I’ve already finished it." (Jodi Picoult, New York Times best-selling author of Leaving Time)
"I devoured this book. Once again Sara Gruen has proven herself to be one of America's most compelling storytellers. You might be tempted to rush to get to the answers at the end - but don't, or you'll miss the delectable journey that is Gruen's prose." (Kathryn Stockett, New York Times best-selling author of The Help)
"Magical... At the Water's Edge skillfully transports us to a small, tenacious Scottish village in the grip of war, and into the heart of Madeline Hyde, a woman who is a stranger to herself until forces convene to rock her awake. Sara Gruen is a wizard at capturing the essence of her historical setting, and does so here in spades, but it's Maddie's unexpected transformation that grounds and drives the novel." (Paula McLain, New York Times best-selling author of The Paris Wife)
"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." (AudioFile)
I read Water for Elephants and enjoyed it very much, so I might read another Gruen. I will never listen to Justine Eyre.
I couldn't stand the narration, so I rushed through the book. Eyre has a catch in her voice, so it sounds like she's about to break down crying. Every phrase sounds overdone and overly emotional.
There are plenty of books about WWII, so an author has to do something very unique. Gruen was hackneyed and melodramatic in this work.
This is the first time I've written a review and I've listened to dozens of Audible books. The narration was the worst part.
I waited a long time for this book. "Water for Elephants" is still one of my all-time favorites. I'm so disappointed to write that I tried to listen to this book, but there must be something wrong with the Audible quality or the narrator's voice. I tried different speeds, but it's still like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard. I'm going to try reading this one.
The voice is intolerable to me. Not sure if it's a quality issue or the actual voice, but I just cannot listen to it.
The book would be better enjoyed by reading it and NOT listening to this narration.
Maddie was my overall favorite because she overcame a lifetime of emotional abuse.
By hiring a narrator without sinus issues. It sounded like she was talking through her sinuses the whole time.
I did love the book after I stopped listening to it and purchased the kindle copy and just read it.
Please never use that narrator again for anything.
We really like Sara Gruen's work but this reader may not allow us to finish this book.
Readers are all personal taste but I just started the book in the car with my wife and we both could not continue listening. I tried playing at 1/2 speed but that did not work either, the reader seems to be trying to race to the finish. We will continue to try but thought I should post this now. If I finish I will redo this review.
Eyre adopts such a weak, tremulous voice for the main character Maddie that it is impossible to see her as anything but a whining twit. She sounds as if she is on the verge of tears or a mental breakdown over everything and the end of each sentence ends in a slight groan. I started listening very closely just to see if I could find one sentence from Maddie that did not sound overwrought - there is not a single one. Eyre can and does rid herself of that whine for other characters, but even those voices are strained and overly dramatic. When she imitates a Scottish accent, which can be beautiful with the right narrator, she overdoes it and races through it so quickly that it is unintelligible.
The voices are so bad, it is impossible to like any of the characters. I would probably have had more empathy for and interest in Maddie if I had read the book. I wished constantly I could grab Maddie by the shoulders and tell her to stop that whining and get a grip..
The narrator simply made all of the characters seem odious - except maybe for the owner and the maid at the inn where they stayed.
I couldn't finish it. I would like to know how the story ends, but not enough to torture myself with the narrator.
A surprisingly disappointing book on about every level. My first thought, at about the 3 minute mark, was this must be a case of different authors with the same name...this can't be the same person that wrote one of my favorites, Water for Elephants, a beautiful and intelligent novel.
This might not have been such a kick to the head if I had read a summary or a review. But blindly ordering (when I saw the *Pre-Order At the Waters Edge by the author of Water for Elephants*), my thought process went something like this: "Awesome! Water for Elephants was one of my favorite books! I liked good old Jake, and I loved Rosie the elephant! Another Sara Gruen?? I'm in!" Even afterwards, seeing the cover and the light watermark of Nessie's tail coiling over Maddie's neck, I thought, or hoped, I was in for a good period piece, Scottish moors and all, from an excellent storyteller.
This is an everybody-in-the-pool kind of book...a red bearded hunky Scottsmen; red-haired bar wenches that make haggis and spell whiskey without an "e"; a female ghost that rises from the Loch; the Bean Nighe (the Scottish version of the Irish banshee) seen wailing and washing the bloodstained clothes of those who are about to die; the beautiful castle secretly owned (wink*wink); and the Loch Ness monster. Representing the United States: the poor little rich socialite, drunk draft-dodging frat boys, the inheritance, lobotomies, ration books, and air-raids. It's a full kettle that boils down to a concoction that's as hard to swallow as Nessie herself. Sara Gruen just might be the good author I thought she was -- but you couldn't tell with this kind of predictable story and clichéd characters, so very different from the well-drawn cast and story of WFE.
This is as close as I've ever come to a Harlequin Romance, or care to (though I do like some of the Harlequin cover art work). And even though it's been a long while since I was in Jr. High, I remember Victoria Holt telling a superior similar kind of story (Bride of Pendorric, anyone?).
Personally, I didn't think Justine Eyre was that bad (I don't know how she read some of this without busting up). My small complaints would be that too often she sounded on the verge of hysterics, and she was inconsistent. She could do a great Scottish brogue/burr, though sometimes it ran away with her into the next character's voice. I'm willing to give her another go. She didn't ruin the story for me -- the story ruined the story for me. If you are expecting another WFE, or anything on that level, I wouldn't bother with this.
Say something about yourself!
This story is not up to the quality of Water for Elephants and the narrator is nearly unbearable. I did listen to it all the way through, but it took a teeth grinding hour or so to be able to ignore the trendy adolescent "growl" and "tremble" of the narrator's voice. I kept going, thinking, this is the author of Water for Elephants, and there were some good moments, but overall it was a huge disappointment.
I was looking forward to reading this book since I loved Water for Elephants and I like wartime historical fiction novels, but I was very disappointed. I stuck it out hoping that it would redeem itself in the end, but the way-too-convenient ending was very transparent. Even if the reader's voice hadn't driven me nuts- her over exaggeration of every single ending syllable really did bother me, and I listen to a lot of audiobooks and rarely complain about the reader- I think I still would've found the book very predictable and the characters lacking depth.
The story was okay but the narrator made the main character sound like a whiney twit. I could barely get through the book because the narrator sounded like she was about to burst into tears at any moment, for me it made the main character very annoying.
I think maybe Sara Gruen used her best story idea to date in Water for Elephants. The next two books have not measured up to the first.
Whining, mewling characters that were so stereotypical as to be humorous if they hadn't been so annoying.
It was the WORST thing I have ever listened to. Almost unable to listen. Like breathy cats mewling. It was whiny and awful. Will NEVER listen to another book she reads again.
The crazy sex scenes that were written as if there should be a shirtless scotsman in a kilt on the cover of the book. Way too "romance novelly" and added absolutely nothing to the story.
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