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Hardcover The Story of Edgar Sawtelle Book

ISBN: 0061768065

ISBN13: 9780061768064

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Like New

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Book Overview

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,...

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

Even for non-Dog People

I passed up this book for quite a while thinking, I don't even like dogs, so why would I read a book about a family that breeds them? However, not only did I thoroughly enjoy the book, I came to a new appreciation for dogs' personalities, abilities, and loyalty. Once starting a book, I only continue to read when I develop a real concern for the characters...this one didn't disappoint. Not your usual storyline or ending. Looked for other books by David Wroblewski and was disappointed to find this is his first and only. Keep 'em coming :)

Hauntingly beautiful

This book is unlike any other I have read. Very few books have shadowed me like Edgar Sawtelle. It is a book of hope and hopelessness. I actually found myself gasping for breath in the final scenes. I have wondered why this book has had such a lasting impact, but reading these reviews, it appears I have company. Not a beach book, but an incredible literary contribution. Keep your hanky handy.


David Wroblewski's debut novel is one that stays with you for a very long time. Built around a classic Hamletian scaffolding, it quickly acquires its own original character of a classic novel. A mute boy, Edgar, is coming of age in a family that raises a special breed of highly intelligent dogs. The strained yet strangely idyllic balance between the uncommunicative boy and the overly communicative dogs soon shatters. Tragedy interlaced with mysteries come rushing in as the father dies and an uncle steps in his place. When the father's apparitions seem to bring up murder and its investigation precipitates even more tragedy, Edgar runs away in the companion of his dogs...but I digress: I would not want to spoil it for anyone. Beautiful prose, insightful descriptions of both human and canine emotions and a grasping story make this novel one that you too will greatly enjoy! As a bonus, if you already share your life with a dog, you will appreciate it more; if not, prepare to experience an intense urge to adopt one. RECOMMENDED!


From the moment I read the Publisher's Weekly starred review in June on The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski, I knew I had to read the book. It did take some time, but it was worth every moment. (I'll admit that I read some non-fiction in between--if for no other reason than to make the novel last longer!) If you love animals--especially dogs--and believe in their power of communication and their ability to love, this book is a must read. I was entranced from the start, as The Sawtelle's raise a fictional breed of dog, known to be exceptional at understanding humans. The hero, Edgar,a mute, bonds with his favorite dog, Almondine. How they communicated with such intensity and depth was deeply moving. The novel is a thriller and does not disappoint. While the novel deeply explores the communication between dog and human, it is also a book about humans' nature--bad and good. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle will, no doubt,take an exalted place next to other great literature. Congratulations, David Wroblewski! Author of the award winning book, HARMONIOUS ENVIRONMENT

Get ready to lose some sleep!

There are at least three ways to introduce this wonderful American novel to you. I could say, in summary, that this novel is like a 20th Century American midwestern Hamlet with dogs. That kind of lead would draw me in, but it might leave you cold. But be assured: you don't have to love dogs or dote on Shakespeare to adore this fine novel. Or I could say, Here is an extraordinarily well-written novel set in mid-20th Century Wisconsin and built around four beautifully crafted characters: Edgar Sawtelle, the mute but very bright son; Gar Sawtelle, the warm persevering father; Trudy Sawtelle, the disciplined but sweetly loving mother; and Claude Sawtelle, Gar's brother who returns from years in the Navy and on the road to turn the world upside down for the Sawtelles. If you are into relational stories, that lead might grab you. But I think the best way to prepare you for this book is to tell you that once you reach the incredible scene where Edgar is confronted by the ghost of his dead father, you will not be able to set this book down until you finish it. Since this scene occurs approximately in the middle of the story and the book runs to some 576 pages, be prepared to lose some sleep. One of the claims of Claude Sawtelle is that you can have anything you want if you are patient. That may or may not be true in your case. But if you are patient with the rich, convincing unfolding of this story, you can certainly have a rewarding reading experience. P.S.: If you do love dogs, you will love the book even more.

Its understated elegance shines through

This is an astonishing, mysterious, bewildering and profound novel. And even though the story is sad and heart-breaking, it is written so well that it has resulted in a deeply satisfying novel as well. Not since I read Yann Martel's mesmerizing novel, "Life of Pi", have I found myself so deeply absorbed in a novelist's magical creation as I was while reading "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle". The novel begins with a needless killing of an injured, limping, stray dog with poison by a medicine man or herbalist. This brutal killing fits into the novel later, as the novel progresses. The protagonist of the novel is a fourteen years old boy named Edgar Sawtelle, who was born mute. His parents - Gar and Trudy Sawtelle are dog-breeders, who live on a farm in a remote part of northern Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest. They breed and train a unique and special breed of canine developed by Edgar's grand father, John Sawtelle; hence the name of the breed: Sawtelle. The dogs earn good reputation not only for their noble temperament, but also for their intuitive ability to anticipate their masters' command, and then interpret and act on the command independently also. The family's peaceful farm life is disrupted when Claude, Edgar's charming, conniving paternal uncle visits them. Gar offers him a job at the farm and a place to stay. Soon Gar dies suddenly and mysteriously. Edgar suspects that Claude murdered Gar. He tries to prove that Claude did indeed murder Gar, but his plan misfires, and so to save himself from Claude he runs away into the Chequamegon woods, accompanied by three young dogs. The author's vivid descriptions of nature, his ability to describe the terrors of the wilderness and the horrors of living in a jungle, and his decision to narrate a part of the story from a dog's perspective have added distinct charm to the novel. The magic of his pen is such that even the supernatural and paranormal incidents in the story seem to be natural, logical and believable. David Wroblewski is a masterful narrator. His prose is spare but mellifluous; and even though it lacks the grandeur and splendor of Yann Martel's or Joseph O'Neill's prose, its understated elegance shines through: "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." This novel is so extra-ordinary and so exquisitely written that I am su

*Here* is a writer...

...and *here* is a novel. Chock-full of a love of language, a robust narrative style, but moreover, more importantly, here is an actual *story*, something rare on today's literary fiction landscape. 'Edgar Sawtelle' will appeal to those who love a good story, to those who love intriguing characters, and certainly to those who love dogs. Mr. Wroblewski's accomplishments with this, his début novel, is substantial. Equally so are Stephen King's glowing words, which, I find in reflection, say everything I might lavish on the author, leaving me to simply nod and pass along the book to loved ones, so that they too, might experience the enjoyment I did at reading 'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle'. Congratulations to the author on this storytelling achievement.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle Mentions in Our Blog

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle in All the World's a Stage: Shakespeare-Related Reads for All Ages
All the World's a Stage: Shakespeare-Related Reads for All Ages
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • July 17, 2020
With the cancelation of so many of our summer adventures, we are relying on literature to take us where we want to go. This week, a mini Shakespeare Festival with reads for all ages!
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle in Timeless Classics with Timely Updates
Timeless Classics with Timely Updates
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • April 03, 2020

Getting young people to read old books can be challenging. One successful approach we’ve come across is to pair the original with a modern take on the story. Here we feature ten classic books matched with fun, updated retellings.

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