Carolyn, October 22, 2014 (view all comments by Carolyn)
Borrowing its basic plot structure from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle tells the story of a mute boy’s coming of age, and his attempt to find justice for his father’s murder.
His parents are breeders of “Sawtelle dogs,” a particular canine breed that is the result of his father’s long endeavor to make a special type of dog with desirable traits and a high intelligence. After his father’s death, Edgar is forced to take on more responsibility to try to keep the family business afloat.
Because Edgar is mute, his communication with the dogs is as meaningful as the sign language he uses with his parents. Some of the dogs end up being his companions as he journeys in exile after an unfortunate incident; when he returns to the farm, the dogs that remain with him end up bearing witness to the tragedy that unfolds.
Well written, this novel reimagines Shakespeare’s classic tale with an exploration of the human-animal connection.
Geri Whitten, January 4, 2010 (view all comments by Geri Whitten)
Brilliant, complex, and beautiful prose. Upon my third reading I continue to enjoy the poetry of the language and the compelling story. I rarely have a conversation about books that I don't bring this book into the discussion.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
The perfect book to curl up with on a blustery afternoon, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a not-so-simple tale of a Wisconsin boy and his dogs. An eloquent exploration of both inner and outer landscapes, this novel will wind about your psyche and will haunt you long after the last page.
by Mary Jo
by Oprah Winfrey,
"The best novel I've read in a long, long, long, long time...a literary feast of a book."
by Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls,
"I doubt we'll see a finer literary debut this year than The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. David Wroblewski's got storytelling talent to burn and a big, generous heart to go with it."
by Stephen King,
"I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.... Wonderful, mysterious, long and satisfying.... I don't re-read many books, because life is too short. I will be re-reading this one."
by Kirkus Reviews (starred review),
"A stately, wonderfully written debut novel... [Wroblewski] takes an intense interest in his characters; takes pains to invest emotion and rough understanding in them; and sets them in motion with graceful language... a boon for dog lovers, and for fans of storytelling that eschews flash. Highly recommended."
by Library Journal (starred review),
"An excruciatingly captivating read... Ultimately liberating, though tragic and heart-wrenching, this book is unforgettable."
by Dalia Sofer, bestselling author of The Septembers of Shiraz,
"Edgar Sawtelle is a boy without a voice, but his world, populated by the dogs his family breeds, is anything but silent. This is a remarkable story about the language of friendship — a language that transcends words."
by Harper Collins,
Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm — and into Edgar's mother's affections.
Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires — spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward.
David Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes — the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain — create a riveting family saga, a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.