Water for Elephants is one of my favorite reads so I was delighted to see Gruen’s At the Water’s Edge available from the Timberland Regional Library. My delight soon turned to disappointment. Although I finished it, the book was an overall lacking read.
WWII is on the horizon. A socialite girl, Maddie, and two ill-mannered and spoiled boys, Ellis and Hank, go to Scotland. One to find a monster, Loch Ness, and finally prove his worth to his father; the other because he really has nothing better to do and isn’t quite ready to tie the knot with his longtime girlfriend. Maddie, equally pampered, is just a token character that has been used by both of them for years. She is married to one due to a coin toss.
Any relationship between the three unravels because none of them are exactly civil or responsible, but rather demanding and thoughtless to each other and everyone else in the book. Far from accomplishing anything, they mostly spend their days in a state of opiate and/or alcohol induced stupor. Gruen apparently didn’t see a need to give any of them many redeeming or sympathetic qualities so it’s difficult to like them or care what happens to them in the story.
This too (see The Paris Wife review) reads more like a romance novel than historical fiction. There may be the stereotypical happy ending, but the book is poorly written and reads more like Gruen was writing to satisfy a publishing contract than a need to tell a story. Admittedly, I’m not even sure what the point of the story was.