This next week the New Woodstock Free Library will host it’s monthly book club on Tuesday, February 21st at 7pm. The selection for the month is At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. I have to say I started this book simply to be able to promote and write about the monthly book club. That is truly why I started it but it’s not why I finished it. Initially the characters came off very “tragically rich”. You know “gadsbyesque”. The main character, Madeline, was so weak that I wasn’t even sure she was the main character. As she journeys from New York City high society to the secluded Highlands of Scotland, she grows in character and substance. World War II is coming to a close and the devastation that she was insulated from in New York society as well as her failing marriage becomes harder and harder to ignore. Madeline travels to Loch Ness with her husband and his best friend for the men to try and prove their worth. They have both been declared 4-F and are unable to serve in the war. This creates friction between Madeline’s husband and his father. Being cut off he decides that proving the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, something his father failed at, will get him back in his father’s and the worlds good graces.
There are so many layers to this book, the legend of Loch Ness, the cruelty many women are subjected to, the horror of war. There is also the layering of friendship, ordinary beauty and lasting love.
Madeline goes from a tagalong girl to a woman learning how to make her own decisions. She encounters people that help her understand real friendship, compassion, love and loyalty. By the end I was not only glued to the book but rooting for Madeline to come into her own. This is the first Sara Gruen book I’ve read and I will definitely give some of her others a try.