Synopses & Reviews
The Sanctuary. High up on the mountain, the Sanctuary is a place of refuge. It is a place where humans save dogs, who, in turn, save the humans. It is a place where the past does not exist, where hopelessness is chased away, where the future hasnand#8217;t been written, where orphans and strays can begin to imagine a new meaning for and#8220;family.and#8221;
Evie is making her way to the Sanctuary. She has lied to gain entry. She has pretended to know more than she does about dogs, but she is learning fast. Once the indomitable Mrs. Auberchon lets her pass, she will find her way. Like the racing greyhound who refuses to move, the golden retriever who returns to his job as the Sanctuaryand#8217;s butler every time heand#8217;s adopted, and the Rottweiler whoand#8217;s a hopeless candidate for search-and-rescue, Evie comes from a troubled past. But as they all learn, no one should stay prisoner to a life she didnand#8217;t choose.
This is the story of two women and a whole pack of dogs who, having lost their way in the world, find a place at a training schooland#8212;and radical rescue centerand#8212;called the Sanctuary. It is a story of strays and rescues, kidnappings and homecomings, moving on and holding on and letting go. And it is, ultimately, a moving and hilarious chronicle of the ways in which humans and canines help each other find new lives, new selves, and new hope.
"The best novel I've read in a long, long, long, long time...a literary feast of a book." Oprah Winfrey
"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." Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
"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." Stephen King
"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." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An excruciatingly captivating read... Ultimately liberating, though tragic and heart-wrenching, this book is unforgettable." Library Journal (starred review)
"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." Dalia Sofer, bestselling author of The Septembers of Shiraz
“Whether you read for the beauty of language or for the intricacies of plot, you will easily fall in love with David Wroblewskis generous, almost transcendentally lovely debut novel...the scope of this book, its psychological insight and lyrical mastery, make it one of the best novels of the year....” O Magazine
“…here is a big-hearted novel you can fall into, get lost in and finally emerge from reluctantly, a little surprised that the real world went on spinning while you were absorbed...grand and unforgettable.” Washington Post Book World
“The most enchanting debut novel of the summer....a great, big, mesmerizing read, audaciously envisioned as classic Americana...One of the great pleasures of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is its free-roaming, unhurried progress, enlivened by the authors inability to write anything but guilelessly captivating prose. New York Times
“…a stunningly well-written novel…” Pittsburgh Tribune
“This luminescent story has the kind of sprawling, wide-lens focus that readers think of when they talk about the so-called ‘great American novel.” Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Dont let the books massive size fool you: This is a good old-fashioned coming-of-age yarn.
“A stunning first novel…a ranging story that is part coming of age, part mystery and part tragedy on the order of Hamlet…Wroblewski executes with elan, building an addicting tale peopled by fully dimensional characters. He carries the reader, with authority and confidence, on a thought-provoking ride.” Denver Post
“A literary thriller with commercial legs, this stunning debut is bound to be a bestseller.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In this beautifully written novel, David Wroblewski creates a remarkable hero who lives in a world populated as much by dogs as by humans, governed as much by the past as by the present. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a passionate, absorbing and deeply surprising debut.” Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street
The Great American Novel is something like a unicornrare and wonderful, and maybe no more than just a notion. Yet every few years or so, we trip across some semblance of one.... [an] extraordinary debut. Elle
“The authors spellbinding first novel…is nearly impossible to put down.” Kirkus Reviews, First Fiction Special
“The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a wooly, unlikely, daring book, and wildly satisfying.” Mark Doty, New York Times bestselling author of Dog Years
andquot;Cooneyandrsquo;s writing style is lively, inventive and fun.andquot; --The Columbus Dispatchand#160;andquot;From the first pages, the tone is warm and welcoming, drawing you in easily...If youandrsquo;ve ever loved a dog, this book is a must-read. Itandrsquo;s a delightful story with layers of meaning that at times may make you cry, both tears of sadness for the abused animals (and people) and also for the happy endings.andquot; --The Missourian
andquot;Cooneyandrsquo;s latest novel is both a joyful romp and a thoughtful meditation. The authorandrsquo;s delicate touch with the pain and trauma endured by abused animals and her sensitive portrayal of dedicated rescuers send a powerful message. Love is a great teacher and we are all a little unadoptable. Readers of Garth Stein and Carolyn Parkhurst will adore this title.andquot; --Library Journal
andquot;Cooneyandrsquo;s good-natured narrative teaches readers about many different aspects of dog behavior and training alongside Evie, making the book ideal for animal aficionados...Dog lovers rejoice! Cooney has crafted an uncomplicated, feel-good, canine-filled tale of cross-generational friendship, healing, and solidarity.andquot; -- Publishers Weekly
andquot;As knowledgeable as she is about the world of dog rescue and rehabilitation, Cooney (Lambrusco) is equally empathic in her treatment of a scarred and scared young woman.andquot; --Booklist
andquot;A charming novel about damaged souls looking for a and#39;forever home.and#39;andquot; --Shelf Awareness, starred review
andquot;Must-read...a moving and joyous romp...All the dogs are wonderfully, fully drawn characters...a brilliantly crafted, uplifting book.andquot; -- The Bark
andquot;Is there such a thing as a Rescue Book? Well, there is now. This is a miracle of a book. Itand#39;s even a spiritual handbook. And it is for readers young and old and all of the in-between. Cooney is such a wise genius of a writer, and her sentences keep surprising you, but are never the point in themselves. I read with a kind of mental breathlessness.and#160; If Cooney needs someone to convince her to write a sequel, I volunteer.andquot; -- Gail Godwin, author of Evensong, Unfinished Desires, and many others
andldquo;The real genius of this story is in all the things it doesnandrsquo;t tell you, all the things it assumes you already knowandmdash;and turns out, you do!andmdash;which leaves much more space to be taken up by what really matters: the marvelous canines.and#160; Any dog-loverandmdash;any person-loverandmdash;will be moved (nearly to the point of slobbering) by this warm, funny, heart-expanding book.andquot; -- Pam Houston, author of Sight Hound and Contents May Have Shifted
andquot;The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances is both a joyful romp and a wise, engaging meditation on dogs, love, and recovery from pain. Come. Sit. Read!andquot; andndash; Lily King, author of The Pleasing Hour and Father of the Rain
andldquo;A young woman who knows sheand#39;s lost, and an older woman who doesnand#39;t think she is, meet a slew of cast-a-away dogs at a snowy, mountaintop sanctuary, and discover what they didnandrsquo;t even know they were looking for. A charming novel about overcoming the past and finding meaning and purpose in the present.andrdquo; andndash; Susan Richards, author of Chosen by a Horse
andquot;This is a jubilant, wise celebration of love, reciprocal between human and canine, in ways profound, moving, and soul saving. Readers will long remember the central humans in this taleandmdash;Evie, Mrs. Auberchon, and Giant Georgeandmdash;along with the exquisitely drawn cast of rescued dogs who, in their own delightful, mysterious, and silent ways, heal their rescuers wounds. Ellen Cooney has written a funny, joyous, and heartrending book that insists intelligence and kindness must win out over ignorance and cruelty. Exploring the human and canine hearts with equal doses of wisdom and wit, it is surely a book to be read and reread preferably with your dog nestled by your side.andquot;andmdash;Connie May Fowler, author of Before Women had Wings and When Katie Wakes
andquot;Dog by dog by dog by Evie, the star-crossed protagonist, practically a stray herself, we come to understand that weand#39;re all a little bit un-adoptable, a little bit misused, and ready for sure for some loving kindness, the kind that surpasseth understanding, and that only dog can give. Ellen Cooney has written a timeless primer to healing, surviving, transcending, and to a rarified communication that runs both ways and back again. I read this book with a cup of tea in my hand and my dog at my side (Baila, a golden). She wagged when I laughed, growled when I gasped, licked my face when I cried, damn it, woof. These animals know a good book when they sniff one.andquot; andndash; Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants and Writing Life Stories
andquot;Dogs were bred by us to serve us in practical ways, but then dogs took it on themselves to serve us most profoundly by healing our broken hearts.and#160; Ellen Cooney understands this, and is the kind of keenly observational writer who can detail the path to healing only dogs can provide.and#160; A delightful read for all of us who canand#39;t imagine life without dogs.andquot; --W. Bruce Cameron, New York Times Bestselling author of A Dogand#39;s Purpose and A Dogand#39;s Journey
andquot;What Ellen Cooney captures so brilliantly here is the psychological and emotional similarities between dogs and people -- the way both respond to trauma and pain, and the way love and kindness can heal even the deepest wounds. The Mountaintop School for Dogs is a celebration of the bond that has brought canines and humans together for thousands of years. This book will grab your heart and not let go.andquot; -- John Grogan, author of Marley and Me: Life and Love With the Worldand#39;s Worst Dog
"In its storytelling heft, its moral rectitude, the solemn magnificence of its writing and the splendor of its hymns to New York City, the new novel is a spiritual pendant to "Winter's Tale," and every bit as extraordinary...Even the most stubbornly resistant readers will soon be disarmed by the nobility of the novel's sentiments and seduced by the pure music of its prose...The harmonization of the dual climaxes results in passages so gorgeous and stirring that I was moved to read them out loud. That is fitting, because the writing throughout "In Sunlight and in Shadow" sounds as though it were scored to some great choral symphony. Harry himself says it best: "My view is that literature should move beyond opinion, where music already is, and old age, if we're lucky, may lead." -- Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal "Helprin has written another expansive novel, as if no one has yet alerted him that the novel is dead. Here it is, a poetic and likely enduring rendering of New York just after the Second World War, a love story that pines for love but even more fervently for an industrious and ascendant America that is no more and maybe never was.…In Sunlight and In Shadow matters. It is a novel, with all of the presumption and ambition and sense of transport that that word once carried when it was the boss…If his latest novel is a book out of time, perhaps it holds clues as to where the novel ought to go from here." --Mark Warren, Esquire "New York, New York, it's a wonderful town! And Mark Helprin's new near-epic novel makes it all the more marvelous. It's got great polarized motifs — war and peace, heroism and cowardice, crime and civility, pleasure and business, love and hate, bias and acceptance — which the gifted novelist weaves into a grand, old-fashioned romance, a New York love story...Helprin does several things extraordinarily well: He fights for and wins our close sympathy for his characters, even as he delivers a full-throated rendering of life at war and life at peace (with a little of each in the other). He also pays wonderful attention to the natural world, such as that New York spring that opens the story, the changing of seasons, dawn in France and winter in Germany during the war, such domestic matters as 30 minutes of kisses, and the rue and wonder of a great love affair. I was desperately disappointed, though, by the end of this grandly charming and deeply affecting novel — but only because it ended." -- Alan Cheuse, NPR "Helprins delightful new novel is a 705-page mash note to Manhattan in the years immediately following World War II. Like Winters Tale, the 1983 bestseller that made his name, its a paean to women and their beauty - and above all to romantic love and its abiding power…Helprin paints a dazzling portrait of the city during a particular moment in history and evokes the universal, dizzy delight of falling head over heels in love…Wise, saturated with sensory detail and beautifully written, Sunlight celebrates the unquenchable bliss of existence." -- Robin Micheli, People Magazine "Passionate, earnest, nostalgic, and romantic…Throughout the novel he splashes down paeans to virtue and beauty youd have to be heartless not to enjoy…" -- Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review "What Ive read so far is glorious and golden, truly like reentering another world where another sensibility prevails and even the sunlight and shadow have a different weight; the 100,000-copy first printing seems right." -- Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Pre-pub Alert "IN SUNLIGHT AND IN SHADOW is every bit as terrific as you may have heard." -- Michael Cader in Publishers Lunch "A fine adult love story—not in the prurient sense, but in the sense of lovers elevated from smittenness to all the grownup problems that a relationship can bring." -- Kirkus, starred "In this prodigious, enfolding saga of exalted romance in corrupt, postwar New York, resplendent storyteller Helprin creates a supremely gifted and principled hero. Helprins suspenseful, many-stranded plot is unfailingly enthralling. The sumptuous settings are intoxicating." -- Booklist, starred Prose seems too mundane a term for Helprins extravagant way with words and emotions . . . . Post-World War II Manhattan isnt merely the backdrop . . . its a magical urban landscape of "whitening sunrises . . .ferries that glide across the harbor trailing smoke. . . bridges diamond-lit and distant." . . . His penchant for providing an epiphany on nearly every page could become wearying. But just when you think "In Sunlight and in Shadow" might float away into the ether, lofted by the sheer beauty of his sentences, he brings it down to earth with a shrewd comment on the speech patterns of Catherines ultra-privileged social class, or a vividly specific account of the production process at the West 26th Street loft that houses Harrys high-end leather goods business. . . . In Helprins rhapsodic rendering . . ."In Sunlight and in Shadow" is at heart a romance, not just the romance of two attractive young people but the romance of life itself. --Los Angeles Times Literary characters dont get much more perfect than Harry and Catherine . . . poster-sized World War II archetypes of a vanished America. . . . "In Sunlight and in Shadow" is a sensational and perfectly gripping novel: a love story, a tribute to the fighting spirit of World War II, a hymn to the majesty of New York. --The Washington Post This flamboyantly anti-realistic novel is more symphonic prose poem than narrative. It is a paean to love, idealized, and also a love letter to New York City in all its rhythms, human and natural, its moods, weathers, changing colors of sky and water. The writing is so highly lyrical and lovely that sometimes my aesthetic receptors clogged with a surfeit of beautiful language. . . .I succumbed to its idiosyncratic spell. . . .There is a tragic climax, perhaps inevitably, since it is difficult to imagine a perfect love enduring unchanged by time. But the novels main theme is the loving embrace of small visions and actions that become extraordinary if we have the spirit and energy to notice their textures. --Minneapolis Star-Tribune Helprin is gifted at writing about war - not just combat, but the vastly complex and contradictory world that surrounds combat - and the passages describing Harrys wartime experiences are . . . lyrical, thrilling and at times astonishing. . . . "In Sunlight and in Shadow," like all of Helprins novels, exists to remind us that. . . it is sometimes wiser and more fulfilling to cherish our deepest ideals than to mock them. --Chicago Tribune In the long sweep of his textured, absorbing look at life in New York City in the middle of the 20th century, Mark Helprin talks about many big issues, yet always gives them a human face. . . .Precise yet transcendent turns of phrase put readers right beside the couple as they deal with the circumstances . . . [of] a literary love story that rivals those celebrated in earlier classics. And Helprin has demonstrated once again the ability to make readers experience what Harry tells Catherine everyone must have: "the friction, the sparring with the world, that you need to feel alive." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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.
A novel of a young woman who, despite knowing nothing about animals, signs herself up for dog training school at The Sanctuary, where she discovers that rescue can find even the most hopeless among us and that friends come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds
An epic love story set in post-war New York by the bestselling author of Winter's Tale.
In the summer of 1946, New York City pulses with energy. Harry Copeland, a World War II veteran, has returned home to run the family business. Yet his life is upended by a single encounter with the young singer and heiress Catherine Thomas Hale, as each falls for the other in an instant. They pursue one another in a romance played out in Broadway theaters, Long Island mansions, the offices of financiers, and the haunts of gangsters. Catherine’s choice of Harry over her longtime fiancé endangers Harry’s livelihood and threatens his life. In the end, Harry must summon the strength of his wartime experience to fight for Catherine, and risk everything.
“In its storytelling heft, its moral rectitude, the solemn magnificence of its writing and the splendor of its hymns to New York City, [In Sunlight and in Shadow] is a spiritual pendant to Winter’s Tale and every bit as extraordinary . . . Even the most stubbornly resistant readers will soon be disarmed by the nobility of the novel’s sentiments and seduced by the pure music of its prose.” — Wall Street Journal
Can love and honor conquer all?
Mark Helprins enchanting and sweeping novel springs from this deceptively simple question, and from the sight of a beautiful young woman, dressed in white, on the Staten Island Ferry, at the beginning of summer, 1946.
Postwar New York glows with energy. Harry Copeland, an elite paratrooper who fought behind enemy lines in Europe, has returned home to run the family business. Yet his life is upended by a single encounter with the young singer and heiress Catherine Thomas Hale, as they each fall for the other in an instant.
Harry and Catherine pursue one another in a romance played out in Broadway theaters, Long Island mansions, the offices of financiers, and the haunts of gangsters. Catherines choice of Harry over her longtime fiancé endangers Harrys livelihood and eventually threatens his life. In the end, it is Harrys extraordinary wartime experience that gives him the character and means to fight for Catherine, and risk everything.
Not since Winters Tale has Mark Helprin written such a magically inspiring saga. Entrancing in its lyricism, In Sunlight and in Shadow so powerfully draws you into New York at the dawn of the modern age that, as in a vivid dream, you will not want to leave.
About the Author
ELLEN COONEY is the author ofandnbsp;A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies and other novels.andnbsp;Herandnbsp;stories have appearedandnbsp;in The New Yorker and many literary journals. She has taught writing at MIT, Harvard, and Boston College, and now lives in Maine with her dogs Andy, Skip, and Maxineand#8212;who are each, in their own way, rescues.
Table of Contents
Boat to St. George: May, 1946 1
Overlooking the Sea 12
Her Hands and the Way She Held Them 24
The Moon Rising over the East River 30
Catherines Song 45
In Production 55
And There She Was 68
What Youre Trained to Do 92
Distant Lights and Summer Wind 119
Changing Light 145
Billy and Evelyn 152
Conversation by the Sea 174
Gray and Green 188
The Abacus 196
The Glare of July 201
The Whole World 213
The Gift of a Clear Day 232
The Beach Road 241
Young Townsend Coombs 248
The Settee 261
The Economics of Hot Water 272
The Wake of the Crispin 284
Speechless and Adrift 310
The Evening Transcript 316
Lost Souls 333
James George Vanderlyn 353
Baucis and Philemon 360
Crossing the River 375
The Highlands 405
Glorious Summer 436
Counsel and Arms 536
Office in Madison Square 574
The Train from Milwaukee 585
Red Steel 597
A Passion of Kindness 603
The Letter 623
In the Arcade 652
Catherine Rising 670
The Horse and His Rider He Hath
Thrown into the Sea 694
In the Arms of an Angel 712