Philadelphia, 1944. The world is at war and yet Maddie and her husband, Ellis, and their friend Hank don't seem to notice. Having been forced out of their home after a drunken outburst at a New Year's Eve party, Ellis and Maddie are cut off completely from his well-off family. After throwing the final insult and claiming his father was a liar when he saw the Loch Ness monster in Scotland decades before, Ellis plans a reckless trek across the Atlantic with Hank, and Maddie is forced to go with them against her wishes. They believe that they will find the monster, prove their worth to Ellis's mother and father and make everything right again. And so they travel to Scotland in search of the great mysterious creature only to find more trouble for themselves once they get there. After arriving in Drumnadrochit, Ellis and Hank basically abandon Maddie while they go out exploring, and she quickly learns that she has to fend for herself. Angus, the owner of the inn where they are staying, is a mysterious man with a secret past that Maddie longs to know more about. Left on her own, Maddie works to make friends with Annie, the housekeeper, and Meg, the barmaid, and becomes increasingly aware of the tragedy associated with war. She learns to help out when she can and ultimately grows into a better human being, which makes a lot of trouble for her with Ellis and Hank. Maddie eventually must choose to continue down the path she has created for herself or to step back into Ellis's shadow.
Full of longing and romance, Gruen has written a great historical fiction book. Readers will want to know how Maddie will survive in her new role and if she will survive her husband's insane plans. The romance in the novel is sweet and not very graphic. At the Water's Edge would be good for people interested in historical fiction, romance, drama and female characters.