Water for Elephants, so when our book club started debating between At the Water's Edge and the 700-plus page A Little Life, I managed to sway my fellow members into the Gruen book because I didn't want to read 700 pages.
The book was fine.
It wasn't quite a mystery, it wasn't quite a romance, and it clearly wasn't historically accurate for many of the women sitting around a table outside last night (I don't know enough about WWII-era Scotland to be pulled out of a novel by historical inaccuracies, but it seemed like my ignorance was the exception), and so it didn't really make any one fall in love.
The book had an exceptionally slow start. If I had been Gruen's editor, I would have essentially started the book when the main character got on the boat to Scotland and included flashbacks of the necessary scenes to sort of explain the character's behavior throughout the story, but I am not an editor, so I'm sure there's a reason this wasn't done. But after a slow start and when the actual rising action began, I felt compelled to finish the book and was excited to see how Gruen tied it all up. Yes, I thought the random magical realism elements in the last fifty pages of the book were essentially the only way Gruen could back herself out of some plot holes and yes, the payoff was certainly less than in Water for Elephants, it was a perfectly acceptable summer read.
We also spent an inordinate amount of time discussing how much the woman on the cover of the book looks like Taylor Swift. We are nothing if not thorough.