Publishing Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 368 pages
The Premise: Maddie Hyde and her husband, Ellis, decide after an embarrassing encounter on New Years to set sail from Philadelphia with Ellis' bestfriend, Hank in search for the Loch Ness monster. Maddie and Ellis have also been cut off financially from Ellis' father, a former war colonel because of Ellis' inability to serve in the war. Ellis is colorblind and Hank is flat-footed, and they both encouraged Maddie to go with them across the pond to Scotland, while the very real monster, Hitler, is waging war. The story follows Maddie as she follows her husband and friend, during wartime into an uncharted territory. Once in Scotland, the story unfolds where Maddie begins to learn about herself, her husband, and a type of awakening occurs within her through the newfound friendships and relationships.
My overall thoughts and review: I know that it is only April and it is probably too early to say, but I have to say that this has got to be my FAVORITE read of 2015 thus far. I've been a big fan of Sara Gruen for a while now and I loved her previous book, Water for Elephants. I was pretty much over the moon happy when I heard about this new book from Gruen. Scotland, WWII, the loch ness monster, what more could you ask for? Having the focus shift to Scotland is definitely something new for me, since I am used to most WWII books being situated in France or England, so this was quite a nice change. I was reading some reviews of the book and one of the criticisms was the pacing of the book and how some found the beginning a bit slow. For me though, it was the complete opposite. I love how Gruen paces the story and really lays the foundation. She gives a little in earlier chapters, and then unfolds and gives the entire picture in later chapters. I LOVED the character of Maddie so much and I loved seeing her journey and her growth as a character. I was so incredibly proud of Maddie by the end of the book for how much she achieved and just how self-aware she was of her circumstances. The story was also woven with another character's story, Angus Grant and I found how that played out to be really sweet. Even the secondary characters were so well-rounded and multi-dimensional. I loved the characters of Meg and Anna so much and at times, I found myself liking Ellis and Hank as well. All in all, this is a wonderful read for those who are fans of historical fiction. I always find it most difficult to comprise a long review for the books I really love, and trying to find more things to say than simply saying, I loved it over and over again. But seriously, I really did love it. It had everything that I would want in a historical fiction book and more so, Gruen's beautiful prose and imaginative storytelling really shined in this one. I have to say, I like it even more than Water for Elephants, and that is saying a lot considering I loved that one!
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)
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Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book at the RHC Blogger Preview event for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.