Review: At the Water’s Edge

At the Water's Edge
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #38 for 2015
PopSugar Challenge Criterion Met: A book published in 2015.

Yes, there may be some very superficial resemblances to Downton Abbey near the beginning of this book, but that is about it. The story, themes, and characters are completely different, not to mention the time period and geographical locations. If you go in expecting to find Aunt Violet and Mrs Crawley sniping at each other, or Thomas the gay footman alternating between evil melodrama and heartbreaking pathos, you will be sadly disappointed. But take it as the story of Maddie finding herself and not only coming to terms with her horrid past but learning how to deal with her steadily deteriorating present, and you’ll get more out of it.

I agree with reviewers who think exploring the relationship between Hank and Ellis would have been interesting, but I am satisfied with how Gruen handled it. To go into greater detail would not have been truly in keeping with Maddie’s character. Such things simply were not discussed, and for much of the book, not even thought about.

I was disappointed with the supernatural/monster elements of the story. They felt tacked-on as an awkward parallel to Hitler and the horrors of war. Part of me wonders if there was a more developed theme that got mostly edited out somehow.

I also found the ending abrupt and anticlimactic. And then there was the happy ending that, given the rest of the book, felt too good to be true. But dang it, I liked the happy ending. It’s not like Maddie didn’t deserve some happiness already.

I wouldn’t recommend this to somebody really wanting a good thriller or creature hunt. But if a period piece with lots of gloom and abuse but a happy ending is more your style, give it a try.

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