I must admit, that I was not at all enthusiastic about reading “At the Water’s Edge” by Sara Gruen. This novel is a period piece…set in the 1940s during WWII… and part of the plot involves the hunt for the infamous fabled Loch Ness monster. I am not attracted to period pieces, much less such pieces involving large serpent dragon dinosaur monsters living in lakes in a foreign land. I much prefer reading something that relates to the present or recent past…characters that seemingly live in my lifetime….in my reality. To this day, I struggle with historical novels, fantasy and plots set much too far into the future. I may struggle with “being present” in my own life, but when I read, it is definitely the preferred time frame.
Because of it’s ranking as #2 on Southern Living’s Best New Summer Books of 2017 list, I cast aside my reluctance to spend the little free time that I have on a story about filthy rich, irresponsible, disrespectful, American youth getting their jollies chasing a dragon during WWII. I finally gave it a go and actually very much enjoyed “At the Water’s Edge.” At first, the initial characters, Ellis, Hank and Maddie were definitely difficult to relate to, much less like. In the end, Ellis and Hank were still despicable and offensive in character, but Maddie was quite respectable. I grew to love her. The story of spoiled youth chasing a silly monster during horrific war times, transformed into a story of Maddie facing a hard reality, in essence, learning some difficult lessons about herself, about her powerless role in her marriage and about the horrors of war. For me, “At the Water’s Edge,” suddenly grew into something I was eager to read, a page-turner about Maddie’s struggle and ultimate maturation, the real monster that Maddie conquers and Maddie getting what she deserved in the end.