At the Water's Edge
Spiegel & Grau
This is a magical novel, weaving fact and fiction together to set the scene for one troubled American wife's World War II venture to Scotland with her despicable husband. The people, the lake, and the maybe-there monster are all lovingly depicted along with the times. If it's a half-notch below Water for Elephants (one of my favorites among all modern novels), It is nevertheless superb in every way. I know a lot of the monster-related history, and Gruen uses much of it, tweaking it occasionally to suit her narrative (as when the allegedly hoaxed "Surgeon's photograph" become a real hoax created by the protagonist's father in law).Gruen puts us firmly, flawlessly into the time and place and explores life through the eyes of Madeline Hyde, a would-be independent woman in a very constricted life. She's never preachy about the oppression of women in those days (which, among the upper crust, included lobotomies when necessary to keep them in line): she lets her points flow honestly from her characters' experiences and emotions. This is a wonderful book, and I look forward to the next one.