Beach House Book #11 – At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

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.


Beach House Book #8 – The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

From death comes life…from darkness comes light…and from the ashes the Phoenix bird, too, will rise.  The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick was featured on Southern Living Magazine’s list of the Best New Summer Books of 2017.  It lightened my heart to read that it was Patrick’s first novel.  So bravo dear Phaedra. Congratulations!

Typically, unless it is a suspense or mystery novel, the books I select almost always have a female perspective and point-of-view.  So as the summer is winding down, a male perspective was quite refreshing.   Meet Arthur Pepper, our hero in this story.  He is a senior citizen, a widower, living almost a hermit’s life in York, England.  And before I speak further about dear old Arthur, let me say, having lived in the UK years ago,  I found myself reading silently, not in my inherited southern accent, but in my own contrived British accent and loving the nuances and stylistic differences that are ever so apparent between the Queen’s English and our own American use of the language.  But before I digress and begin reminiscing about my own adventures in that lovely little country, let me get back to Arthur.  Arthur’s tale begins similar to many of the chapters in our own lives.  Essentially his story begins at the end of one of life’s chapters, in a state of loss, from having lost a loved one.  On the anniversary of his wife, Miriam’s, death, he begins to sort through her closet only to discover a 40-year old secret…an elegant charm bracelet she has hidden amongst her belongings.  And so his adventures begin as he unravels the truth behind each of the charms.

Arthur is so relatable through this story.   As we would all be in this precarious situation, he is saddened by the secrets and the stories of his Miriam’s past…stories she never confided in him.  As such, his insecurities abound about his own place in her life and about their life together.  But he continues, fearlessly chasing the truth.  Through his quest, he not only discovers the history behind each charm, but he receives an answer to a greater, more haunting question…an answer to the riddle of his life and his purpose.  Indeed, Miriam’s charms may have initially breathed life into his essence, but in the end he breathes all on his own.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is such a lovely read.  Go grab yourself a copy and enjoy with your next spot of tea.


Related Posts:

I Will Judge a Book by Its Cover

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Beach House Book #4 – All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Beach House Book #6 – The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

Beach House Book #7 – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett