The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski


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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life on his family's farm in remote northern Wisconsin where they raise and train an extraordinary breed of dog. But when tragedy strikes, Edgar is forced to flee into the vast neighboring wilderness, accompanied by only three yearling pups. Struggling for survival, Edgar comes of age in the wild, and must face the choice of leaving forever or revealing the terrible truth behind what has happened. A riveting family saga as well as a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is destined to become a modern classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061374234
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/08/2009
Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 93,653
Product dimensions: 8.06(w) x 5.66(h) x 0.28(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

David Wroblewski grew up in rural Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest where The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is set. He earned his master's degree from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and now lives in Colorado with his partner, the writer Kimberly McClintock, and their dog, Lola. This is his first novel.

Read an Excerpt


In the year 1919, Edgar’s grandfather, who was born with an extra share of whimsy, bought their land and all the buildings on it from a man he’d never met, a man named Schultz, who in his turn had walked away from a logging team half a decade earlier after seeing the chains on a fully loaded timber sled let go. Twenty tons of rolling maple buried a man where Schultz had stood the moment before. As he helped unpile logs to extract the wretched man’s remains, Schultz remembered a pretty parcel of land he’d spied north and west of Mellen. The morning he signed the papers he rode one of his ponies along the logging road to his new property and picked out a spot in a clearing below a hill and by nightfall a workable pole stable stood on that ground. The next day he fetched the other pony and filled a yoked cart with supplies and the three of them walked back to his crude homestead, Schultz on foot, reins in hand, and the ponies in harness behind as they drew the cart along and listened to the creak of the dry axle. For the first few months he and the ponies slept side by side in the pole shed and quite often in his dreams Schultz heard the snap when the chains on that load of maple broke.

He tried his best to make a living there as a dairy farmer. In the five years he worked the land, he cleared one twenty-five-acre field and drained another, and he used the lumber from the trees he cut to build an outhouse, a barn, and a house, in that order. So that he wouldn’t need to go outside to tote water, he dug his well in the hole that would become the basement of the house. He helped raise barns all the way from Tannery Town to Park Falls so there’d be plenty of help when his time came. And day and night he pulled stumps. That first year he raked and harrowed the south field a dozen times until even his ponies seemed tired of it. He stacked rocks at the edges of the fields in long humped piles and burned stumps in bonfires that could be seen all the way from Popcorn Corners—the closest town, if you called that a town—and even Mellen. He managed to build a small stone-and-concrete silo taller than the barn, but he never got around to capping it. He mixed milk and linseed oil and rust and blood and used the concoction to paint the barn and outhouse red. In the south field he planted hay, and in the west, corn, because the west field was wet and the corn would grow faster there. During his last summer on the farm he even hired two men from town. But when autumn was on the horizon, something happened—no one knew just what—and he took a meager early harvest, auctioned off his livestock and farm implements, and moved away, all in the space of a few weeks.

At the time, John Sawtelle was traveling up north with no thought or intention of buying a farm. In fact, he’d put his fishing tackle into the Kissel and told Mary, his wife, he was delivering a puppy to a man he’d met on his last trip. Which was true, as far as it went. What he didn’t mention was that he carried a spare collar in his pocket.

THAT SPRING THEIR DOG, Violet, who was good but wild-hearted, had dug a hole under the fence when she was in heat and run the streets with romance on her mind. They’d ended up chasing a litter of seven around the backyard. He could have given all the pups away to strangers, and he suspected he was going to have to, but the thing was, he liked having those pups around. Liked it in a primal, obsessive way. Violet was the first dog he’d ever owned, and the pups were the first pups he’d ever spent time with, and they yapped and chewed on his shoelaces and looked him in the eye. At night he found himself listening to records and sitting on the grass behind the house and teaching the pups odd little tricks they soon forgot while he and Mary talked. They were newlyweds, or almost. They sat there for hours and hours, and it was the finest time so far in his life. On those nights, he felt connected to something ancient and important that he couldn’t name.

But he didn’t like the idea of a stranger neglecting one of Vi’s pups. The best thing would be if he could place them all in the neighborhood so he could keep tabs on them, watch them grow up, even if from a distance. Surely there were half a dozen kids within an easy walk who wanted a dog. People might think it peculiar, but they wouldn’t mind if he asked to see the pups once in while.

Then he and a buddy had gone up to the Chequamegon, a long drive but worth it for the fishing. Plus, the Anti-Saloon League hadn’t yet penetrated the north woods, and wasn’t likely to, which was another thing he admired about the area. They’d stopped at The Hollow, in Mellen, and ordered a beer, and as they talked a man walked in followed by a dog, a big dog, gray and white with brown patches, some mix of husky and shepherd or something of that kind, a deep-chested beast with a regal bearing and a joyful, jaunty carriage. Every person in the bar seemed to know the dog, who trotted around greeting the patrons.

“That’s a fine looking animal,” John Sawtelle remarked, watching it work the crowd for peanuts and jerky. He offered to buy the dog’s owner a beer for the pleasure of an introduction.

“Name’s Captain,” the man said, flagging down the bartender to collect. With beer in hand he gave a quick whistle and the dog trotted over.

“Cappy, say hello to the man.”

Captain looked up. He lifted a paw to shake.

That he was a massive dog was the first thing that impressed Edgar’s grandfather. The second thing was less tangible—something about his eyes, the way the dog met his gaze. And, gripping Captain’s paw, John Sawtelle was visited by an idea. A vision. He’d spent so much time with pups lately he imagined Captain himself as a pup. Then he thought about Vi—who was the best dog he’d ever known until then—and about Captain and Vi combined into one dog, one pup, which was a crazy thought because he had far too many dogs on his hands already. He released Captain’s paw and the dog trotted off and he turned back to the bar and tried to put that vision out of his mind by asking where to find muskie. They weren’t hitting out on Clam Lake. And there were so many little lakes around.

The next morning, they drove back into town for breakfast. The diner was situated across the street from the Mellen town hall, a large squarish building with an unlikely looking cupola facing the road. In front stood a white, three-tiered drinking fountain with one bowl at person height, another lower, for horses, and a small dish near the ground whose purpose was not immediately clear. They were about to walk into the diner when a dog rounded the corner and trotted nonchalantly past. It was Captain. He was moving in a strangely light-footed way for such a solidly constructed dog, lifting and dropping his paws as if suspended by invisible strings and merely paddling along for steering. Edgar’s grandfather stopped in the diner’s doorway and watched. When Captain reached the front of the town hall, he veered to the fountain and lapped from the bowl nearest the ground.

“Come on,” his buddy said. “I’m starving.”

From along the alley beside the town hall came another dog, trailing a half-dozen pups behind. She and Captain performed an elaborate sashay, sniffing backsides and pressing noses into ruffs, while the pups bumbled about their feet. Captain bent to the little ones and shoved his nose under their bellies and one by one rolled them. Then he dashed down the street and turned and barked. The pups scrambled after him. In a few minutes, he’d coaxed them back to the fountain, spinning around in circles with the youngsters in hot pursuit while the mother dog stretched out on the lawn and watched, panting.

A woman in an apron walked out the door of the diner, squeezed past the two men, and looked on.

“That’s Captain and his lady,” she said. “They’ve been meeting there with the kids every morning for the last week. Ever since Violet’s babies got old enough to get around.”

Whose babies?” Edgar’s grandfather said.

“Why, Violet’s.” The woman looked at him as if he were an idiot. “The mama dog. That dog right there.”

I’ve got a dog named Violet,” he said. “And she has a litter about that age right this moment back home.”

“Well, what do you know,” the woman said, without the slightest note of interest.

“I mean, don’t you think that’s sort of a coincidence? That I’d run into a dog with my own dog’s name, and with a litter the same age?”

“I couldn’t say. Could be that sort of thing happens all the time.”

“Here’s a coincidence happens every morning,” his buddy interjected. “I wake up, I get hungry, I eat breakfast. Amazing.”

“You go ahead,” John Sawtelle said. “I’m not all that hungry anyway.” And with that, he stepped into the dusty street and crossed to the town hall.

WHEN HE FINALLY SAT DOWN for breakfast, the waitress appeared at their table with coffee. “If you’re so interested in those pups, Billy might sell you one,” she said. “He can’t hardly give ’em away, there’s so many dogs around here.”

“Who’s Billy?”

She turned and gestured in the direction of the sit-down counter. There, on one of the stools, sat Captain’s owner, drinking a cup of coffee and reading the Sentinel. Edgar’s grandfather invited the man to join them. When they were seated, he asked Billy if the pups were indeed his.

“Some of them,” Billy said. “Cappy got old Violet in a fix. I’ve got to find a place for half the litter. But what I really think I’ll do is keep ’em. Cap dotes on ’em, and ever since my Scout ran off last summer I’ve only had the one dog. He gets lonely.”

Edgar’s grandfather explained about his own litter, and about Vi, ex- panding on her qualities, and then he offered to trade a pup for a pup. He told Billy he could have the pick of Vi’s litter, and furthermore could pick which of Captain’s litter he’d trade for, though a male was preferable if it was all the same. Then he thought for a moment and revised his equest: he’d take the smartest pup Billy was willing to part with, and he didn’t care if it was male or female.

“Isn’t the idea to reduce the total number of dogs at your place?” his buddy said.

“I said I’d find the pups a home. That’s not exactly the same thing.”

“I don’t think Mary is going to see it that way. Just a guess there.”

Billy sipped his coffee and suggested that, while interested, he had reservations about traveling practically the length of Wisconsin just to pick out a pup. Their table was near the big front window and, from there, John Sawtelle could see Captain and his offspring rolling around on the grass. He watched them awhile, then turned to Billy and promised he’d pick out the best of Vi’s litter and drive it up—male or female, Billy’s choice. And if Billy didn’t like it, then no trade, and that was a fair deal.

Which was how John Sawtelle found himself driving to Mellen that September with a pup in a box and a fishing rod in the back seat, whistling “Shine On, Harvest Moon.” He’d already decided to name the new pup Gus if the name fit.

Billy and Captain took to Vi’s pup at once. The two men walked into Billy’s backyard to discuss the merits of each of the pups in Captain’s litter and after a while one came bumbling over and that decided things. John Sawtelle put the spare collar on the pup and they spent the afternoon parked by a lake, shore fishing. Gus ate bits of sunfish roasted on a stick and they slept there in front of a fire, tethered collar to belt by a length of string.

The next day, before heading home, Edgar’s grandfather thought he’d drive around a bit. The area was an interesting mix: the logged-off parts were ugly as sin, but the pretty parts were especially pretty. Like the falls. And some of the farm country to the west. Most especially, the hilly woods north of town. Besides, there were few things he liked better than steering the Kissel along those old back roads.

Late in the morning he found himself navigating along a heavily washboarded dirt road. The limbs of the trees meshed overhead. Left and right, thick underbrush obscured everything farther than twenty yards into the woods. When the road finally topped out at a clearing, he was presented with a view of the Penokee range rolling out to the west, and an unbroken emerald forest stretching to the north—all the way, it seemed, to the granite rim of Lake Superior. At the bottom of the hill stood a little white farmhouse and a gigantic red barn. A milk house was huddled up near the front of the barn. An untopped stone silo stood behind. By the road, a crudely lettered sign read, “For Sale.”

He pulled into the rutted drive. He parked and got out and peered through the living room windows. No one was home. The house looked barely finished inside. He stomped through the fields with Gus in his arms and when he got back he plunked himself down on the running board of the Kissel and watched the autumn clouds soar above.

John Sawtelle was a tremendous reader and letter writer. He especially loved newspapers from faraway cities. He’d recently happened across an article describing a man named Gregor Mendel—a Czechoslovakian monk, of all things—who had done some very interesting experiments with peas. Had demonstrated, for starters, that he could predict how the offspring of his plants would look—the colors of their flowers and so on. Mendelism, this was being called: the scientific study of heredity.

The article had dwelt upon the stupendous implications for the breeding of livestock. Edgar’s grandfather had been so fascinated that he’d gone to the library and located a book on Mendel and read it cover to cover. What he’d learned occupied his mind in odd moments. He thought back on the vision (if he could call it that) that had descended upon him as he shook Captain’s paw at The Hollow. It was one of those rare days when everything in a person’s life feels connected. He was twenty-five years old, but over the course of the last year his hair had turned steely gray. The same thing had happened to his grandfather, yet his father was edging up on seventy with a jet black mane. Nothing of the kind had happened to either of his elder brothers, though one was bald as an egg. Nowadays when John Sawtelle looked into the mirror he felt a little like a Mendelian pea himself.

He sat in the sun and watched Gus, thick-legged and clumsy, pin a grasshopper to the ground, mouth it, then shake his head with disgust and lick his chops. He’d begun smothering the hopper with the side of his neck when he suddenly noticed Edgar’s grandfather looking on, heels set in the dirt driveway, toes pointed skyward. The pup bucked in mock surprise, as if he’d never seen this man before. He scrambled forward to investigate, twice going tail over teakettle as he closed the gap.

It was, John Sawtelle thought, a lovely little place.

Explaining Gus to his wife was going to be the least of his worries.

IN FACT, IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG for the fuss to die down. When he wanted to, Edgar’s grandfather could radiate a charming enthusiasm, one of the reasons Mary had been attracted to him in the first place. He could tell a good story about the way things were going to be. Besides, they had been living in her parents’ house for over a year and she was as eager as he to get out on her own. They completed the purchase of the land by mail and telegram.

This the boy Edgar would come to know because his parents kept their most important documents in an ammunition box at the back of their bedroom closet. The box was military gray, with a big clasp on the side, and it was metal, and therefore mouseproof. When they weren’t around he’d sneak it out and dig through the contents. Their birth certificates were in there, along with a marriage certificate and the deed and history of ownership of their land. But the telegram was what interested him most—a thick, yellowing sheet of paper with a Western Union legend across the top, its message consisting of just six words, glued to the backing in strips: OFFER ACCEPTED SEE ADAMSKI RE PAPERS. Adamski was Mr. Schultz’s lawyer; his signature appeared on several documents in the box. The glue holding those words to the telegram had dried over the years, and each time Edgar snuck it out, another word dropped off. The first to go was papers, then re, then see. Eventually Edgar stopped taking the telegram out at all, fearing that when accepted fluttered into his lap, his family’s claim to the land would be reversed.

He didn’t know what to do with the liberated words. It seemed wrong to throw them away, so he dropped them into the ammo box and hoped no one would notice.

What People are Saying About This

Margot Livesey

“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.”

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.”

Dalia Sofer

“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.”

Mark Doty

“The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a wooly, unlikely, daring book, and wildly satisfying.”

Richard Russo

“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.”

Reading Group Guide

1. How is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a coming of age novel?

2. What is the significance of the epigraph to the novel, taken from Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species? How does it relate to the story it precedes? 

3. What role do mysteries play in the novel? In what ways is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a mystery?

4. Telegrams, the shape of words, muteness, barking, crossword puzzles . . . what is the importance of words in The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? And what about things that can't be put into words?

5. How are Sawtelle dogs different from other dogs? What role do they play in the telling of the novel, and how do their perceptions change your view of the human characters?

6. What is the significance of the chapter titles (such as "A Thin Sigh," "Pirates," etc.) Did any surprise you, or give you pause?

7. Hamlet is famously about a son seeking revenge for his father's death by poisoning (to be a little reductive). How does The Story of Edgar Sawtelle echo Hamlet? In what ways is it different?

8. How is death and mourning described and experienced differently at different times in the book?

9. How would you characterize the relationship between Edgar and his mother, Trudy?

10. How would you describe the pacing of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? What effect does it have on your experience of the book?

11. How does The Story of Edgar Sawtelle compare to other books you have read which are prominently about animals? What makes it better or worse?

12. What is the importance of magic in the novel?

13. To what extent does Edgar create his own problems?

14. What role do settings play in The Story of Edgar Sawtelle?

15. "As they worked, they put the sky in place above, the trees in the ground. They invented colour and air and scent and gravity. Laughter and sadness."  Describe the different kinds of training in the book and what they contribute to your sense of the characters and the story.

16. Why does Edgar leave the farm without waiting for Trudy's signal?

17. "He wouldn't have gotten into the car with Henry if he hadn't trusted him. There were moments when Edgar understood Henry better than Henry understood himself. What Henry couldn't see was that, ordinary or not, he was trustworthy. That much was clear as day." How is trust important in the novel? How do people, and dogs, become trustworthy?

18. In what ways is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle an American book?

19. In its glowing review of the novel, The Washington Post Book World said that the idea of "a story about a mute boy and his dogs sets off alarm bells. . . . Handicapped kids and pets can make a toxic mix of sentimentality." How does The Story of Edgar Sawtelle avoid this danger?

20. Why did David Wroblewski choose to end The Story of Edgar Sawtelle the way he does? What is the effect of the ending of the novel?

Customer Reviews

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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 915 reviews.
adambomb314 More than 1 year ago
Please do not read this book. I just finished it and have never felt more betrayed and letdown by a book before. If you would have asked me yesterday what I thought of the book, I would have told you I loved it. The characters were engrossing, the language was at once a combination of being sparse and detailed. There was just the right amounts of mystery and beauty, and a touch of the otherworldly. In fact, I felt that anything was possible and plausible in the world of the book. I just don't see the point after finishing it. Why did I go through all of Edgar's struggles only to be stabbed in the back by the author. To me, a story should have a reason, a lesson, a moral objective. But where was it? If it was in there it was overshadowed by the ending, which is all I can think about now. Ripping the readers guts out over the course of a book is good, if there is some kind of satisfaction in the outcome of the story. I think the books objective could have been achieved with a different ending, while still being true to the story. I don't even need a full on happy ending, thats not my point. My point is that misery for misery's sake is just pointless. I lived in Wisconsin, and I love dogs, so maybe I fell a little too hard for this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You have to have an open mind when reading this book or you definitely won't "get it." If you like everything tied up in a neat little package and don't like difficult words (you might even have to look some up), this is probably not the book for you. But if you enjoy feeling like you're living right there with the characters and seeing right through their eyes, this author can take you there. I especially liked seeing the world through Almondine's eyes. It made me understand how my own dogs probably see the world. A terrible sadness gripped me right in the pit of my stomach at the end, but I also felt joy that Almondine's spirit was there for Edgar and I was glad Claude suffered too. I think the ending is open to interpretation, which is good because it gets people talking about the book. I felt somehow that Forte would join the dogs and become their leader, perhaps even take them to Henry. I felt like the dogs were able to almost communicate telepathically with each other. Towards the end of the book I felt excitement and fear and dread for Edgar, disgust and loathing for Claude and pity for Trudy - and I just couldn't put the book down. I actually went back and read the last three chapters one more time after I had finished. I can't wait for him to write another book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'll keep it short and sweet. It was a wonderful book until the end. I hated the ending so much that it ruined the whole book and made me wonder what the whole thing was about.
jgAZ More than 1 year ago
I have never felt the compulsion to write a review - until now. I have NEVER been so disappointed and upset with a book, and I literally HATED the author when I finished. I was upset for days. The book is beautifully written and the author extremely talented. One is completely drawn into the life of Edgar. One knows, though, as the ending approaches that it will not be a good one. There are numerous possibilities as to how to end the story, even negatively. However, this author seems to take an almost sadistic pleasure in leaving the reader completely anguished and distraught! I will never read another book of his.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't wait to read this book. I expected to absolutely love it. With so many critics, readers and even Oprah, for gosh sakes, praising it to the heavens, I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I ... well, I actually hated it (and there are very few books that I would say that about). I thought it was over-blown and self-indulgent. Of the 576 pages, it felt like about 400 were about dog training, a subject I never really cared much about and now, care about even less. And I have a beautiful dog that I love and I'm pretty sure we've done some "shared gazing" without having to make such a big deal about it. Every scene went on and on and on, to the point of sheer torture. By the end of the book, I was irritated with every character, even the beloved Almondine ... I mean, c'mon, who names a dog Almondine? And the ending was truly lame ... if I had any degree of attachment to any of the characters, I would have been yelling, "Get up, Trudy! Save your son!" As it was, I said, "Stay down, Trudy, not worth it." I need to sink my teeth into another book right now, to try to erase the bad taste that Edgar Sawtelle left.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main reason I ordered this book was because it was highly rated on Oprah's show, and I must confess that I will never read another book that Oprah reccommends.

To me, this book had some very good story lines about the training and caring of the dogs, along with their breeding history, and how Edgar communicated and related to them. I am a dog lover so I think that part was very well done, but that was the only essence of the book. Nothing else flowed well.

Parts of the book went on far too long while describing the forest, the sunset, the lake, etc., so I actually skipped those parts which were several pages long; and wanted to see what happened between Edgar and Claude. Would justice be served????

The biggest disappointment was the ending of the story. What happens to the dogs? Do they become wild, or are they on their way to Henry's home to join Tinder and Baboo??
twist More than 1 year ago
While author Wroblewski has a deft paintbrush in detailing the nuanced lives of his human and canine characters, I was left with the nagging feeling that he was simply trying too hard. You could almost hear him as author attempting to get that "just right" description of sunlight through a barn roof, the heavy pant of a loving dog, or the breaking pane of a vandalized window. Nevertheless, I did care deeply for his protaganist -- Edgar. And, I did root for him to triumph. But, where was the "evil"? Claude was enveloped in such mystery that it was difficult to discern what drove him to act with such callous calculation. Where was his passion? The unsatisfying answers in the climax simply left an ache. Was that the point?
ShepherdLady More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with Anonymous and 24girl. I absolutely loved this book, the characters and of course the main characters, the Sawtelle dogs. Henry was also an integral part of this story. I found I couldn't wait to get back to it and stayed up many nights until 1 or 1:30 in the morning saying "just one more chapter".
The ending was such a disapointment...I truly felt cheated of a great read. Many questions were left unanswered. Why did he do it? Where did they go? What about Trudy and Glen? What was in their individual futures?
And we never really know Almondine's final story.
This could have been a perfect novel had certain things been somewhat clear at the end. But it was a bit chaotic for me.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In a remote part of Wisconsin, Gar Sawtelle, his wife Trudy and their young son, mute Edgar makes a living breeding and training dogs. Edgar has developed a unique special relationship with Almondine, one of the family dogs the pair communicate in a way that his parents are unable to do with their son.============== The family is contented although the work with the canines is hard. When Gar's brother charming brother Claude comes home the family dynamics change but not in a positive manner. Soon after his arrival Gar dies and the silent Edgar is unable to call for help. He is filled with remorse and guilt making his grief even more difficult. However, he soon believes his father was murdered by his uncle who has spent an exorbitant amount of time with his mom. Fearing he may be next, Edgar flees accompanied by his best friends Almondine and two other dogs.============= Hamlet is brought into modern day Wisconsin as readers feel the destiny of tragedy will occur from the moment Claude arrives and after that happens, a sense of a second calamity once Edgar concludes his uncle killed his father to eliminate the sole barrier to his mother. Readers will be spellbound by David Wrobleweski¿s retelling of the classic as the key cast comes alive especially the mute Edgar who readers get to know by his thoughts and his communication with Almondine (sort of in some ways like the Ghost). This is a fascinating winner, but at 566 pages set aside some time.========== Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why do I listen to critics who praise books? Why do I continue to plod throught a book, which page after page I keep thinking "it must get better soon"? This book has so much detail to skim over, with a possibly interesting plot, yet it goes nowhere. I usually stick to my gut instinct, that after 50 or so pages, if the book doesn't grab my attenion, just stop it. But no, I kept out for hope (it is the Christmas season, after all...) of it getting better. And the ending? It almost seemed as if the author didn't know how to end it, so just slapped a conclusion in it. I actually was mad that I wasted a day reading it. Maybe a talented writer, if he edits more, and adds a bit more climax?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I has high hopes for this book the way Oprah talked about it. It took me 3 mos. to read it and the first 150-200 pages were very slow. It did get better but not much. The ending was not good at all. Overall not a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was interesting and a great read up until the end. I stayed up until 3 in the morning to finish this book and was so mad with the ending that I could not go to sleep. I will never read any other books by this author. What was Oprah thinking when she was raving about this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is, perhaps, the best book I have read all year. There are so many pleasures to be found in this book. It can be read for it's thrilling plot, it's subtle and psychologically nuanced portrait of a family caught in the cross currents of profound grief and corrosive envy, it's rich, beautiful language, or it's tender delineation of the relationship between man and dog. While nodding to Hamlet and The Jungle Book, among other classics, this novel is much more than a recasting of familar themes and story lines. It is a singular work of art unto itself (that also happens to be a terrific, propulsive page-turner). This book is as satisfying and entertaining as popular fiction gets.
melaniehaber More than 1 year ago
This was a crappy book. I'm serious. I'm no writer (and I don't claim to be) and I'm not the most articulate, but I just want to say that I really have to disagree with Oprah on this. Which I hate to do because I truly love her. I finished this book several months ago. I thought I'd never finish. The beginning of the book is great; you think the thing is truly going to be an epic, especially after all the hype. And then it just drags on and on and on. There were no heroes, except for maybe the ghost. I wanted to strangle the boy's mother. The end was really pointless....don't care what anyone says; it's not just sad, it's sadly annoying. I hated this book!
bluejens234 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book until I finished it. I felt like the author left too many unfinished details. What became of the dogs? They started to "change"... what is that supposed to mean? A lot of time is spent developing a relationship with these dogs, and then the ending for them is unclear. Sad endings are ok, but there needs to be some finality to the entire story. I did not get any sense of finality from this book. The story was about Edgar, but readers also develop a relationship with the dogs. It would be nice to know what happens with them too.
not-so-tiny-tim More than 1 year ago
This book had just about everything for me....great writting, family drama, the bond between a boy and his dog and some truly amazing characters. Alas....I HATED THE ENDING!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I too am one of those dog people and that's why I picked up the book this summer. It was just too 'too'. From the opening scene with Claude, I knew I had picked the wrong book. I agree with another poster about the end, it seemed as if the author rushed to finish the book and just said 'the end'. And now I see this book featured in all of the book stores, #1 position on the best seller list and I am shaking my head, wandering if I am that thick to have not gotten it. The only one in the family who actually liked the book was our lone male dog, he tore up the dust jacket and chewed the front corners and pronounced it a fun chew due to the size.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The body of the story was well developed but the author ran out of steam at the end. I actually hated the ending. It wasn't deep. It gave no hope. It just ended. Dead, heartbroken, blind: there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Even the dogs drift at the end.
TRAD405 More than 1 year ago
I don't understand why some people don't like this book. I'm assuming they've never had a relationship with a pet before. I was so touched by Edgar's relationship with the dogs - especially when he ran away. Edgar and Henry are extremely lovable and deep characters and the storyline kept me turning the pages as quickly as I could. I cried at the end - not for the death of the protagonist, but for the beauty in which the end was written. The author put to life a human-animal connection that left a lasting impression for me. I've recommended this book to all of my friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Am I the only one who had a problem with the ending? It seems to me that an ending should either resolve the thesis of the book or have a logical reason to ponder the unknown outcome. Did this book do either?
zmm More than 1 year ago
I slowed down while reading, just to make the book last longer, what a wonderful, heartfelt book!!! I cried alot!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was intimidated by the size of the book and the "boy and his dog" reviews I had heard. Once I actually opened the book and started reading, I was immediately taken on a spiritual journey through myriad emotions. His descriptions of the scenery, the weather, the people, and the animals heightened all my senses. I could see, feel and smell every sentence.
I confess that I am a reader who likes to have everything tied up neatly in a bow at the end of my stories. This book ended as it should. It will not leave me for a long time. I am greatly impressed by this author. I heard it took a long time for him to write this book. It was well worth the wait. Well done! Animal lovers and bibliophiles will not be disappointed.
24girl More than 1 year ago
It's a little hard to put a finger on my feelings on this book. In one way I loved it and in another I was disappointed. As proven true with Stephenie Meyer'sr Breaking Dawn and other over hyped books, there's a kind of a let down even though the book is great and I think that's my problem with this one. If I had read it without all the hype from it becoming an Oprah Book Club selection I think I may have loved it more.

To me the greatest thing about the book is the character development. Edgar quickly becomes a cherished character so much so that I felt a strong maternal tug when he makes decisions that I didn't agree with. The dogs are written about in such a way you can picture them, with each of their unique traits, just as if they are sitting in front of you.

For the most part the storyline is told incredibly well but in some areas the detail drags on way too long with no clear benefit to writing it that way. Without giving away any spoilers there were also a couple of points that never led anywhere when the anticipation is that it would be an integral part of the story. Furthermore, the ending just wasn't what I imagined and I was left greatly disappointed by it.

All that being said; I do still recommend this read. It¿s a huge book but overall worth the time to read.
redheadbooklover More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader and enjoy reading other people review books. I just finished this book and I was eager to tell folks that this is the best book I believe I have ever read. I just purchased two more copies for my friends for Christmas. The prose is so moving, I cannot fully explain. I am NOT a dog person, but was deeply touched by the characters. I will recommend this to everyone! Definitely an addition to my permanent library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was a great read until I got to the ending. I was very angry and disappointed in how the author choose to end this book. I felt as if the characters did not deserve what happened in the end and it made me wish I had not read the book in some ways. I was excited to recommend the book to others but the ending took away my enthusiasm.