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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,035397889 (3.73)349
A tale reminiscent of "Hamlet" that also celebrates the alliance between humans and dogs follows speech-disabled Wisconsin youth Edgar, who bonds with three yearling canines and struggles to prove that his sinister uncle is responsible for his father's death.
  1. 10
    What the Deaf-Mute Heard by G. D. Gearino (Bookshop_Lady)
    Bookshop_Lady: Coming-of-age stories, family secrets, loss of parents - both wonderful books.
  2. 00
    The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (chndlrs)
  3. 00
    The Turtle Warrior: A Novel by Mary Relindes Ellis (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: Both novels feature a sympathetic young man as the main character, an isolated rural setting, and a ghost.
  4. 00
    The Maestro by Tim Wynne-Jones (LDVoorberg)
    LDVoorberg: If you read and liked The Maestro as a teen, as an you'll probably like at least Part 2 of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle because of the adventure/survival aspect to the plot.
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» See also 349 mentions

English (390)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (395)
Showing 1-5 of 390 (next | show all)
The Sory of Edgar Sawtelle is an awesome novel. It ranks as one of the best books I have ever read. ( )
  rcabbott | Aug 12, 2022 |
3.5 stars - Rounded up to 4. It's Hamlet, but then again, it's not.

Edgar Sawtelle is a mute whose father, Gar, and mother, Trudy, are the third generation of Sawtelles running a unique dog training/breeding business. The business is much more than a business to the family and the dogs are much more than pets. Into the midst of this happy threesome comes Gar's brother, Claude, and from there tragedy ensues.

Oddly enough, I liked the incorporation of the dog training and breeding, and yet I didn't ever quite see what that had to do with the heart of the tale Wroblewski was telling. Without the dogs and the intricate relationships they have with Edgar, the book would be infinitely less captivating. They add another dimension to the human relationships and several of them become major characters in the story. Still, I felt at the end that I might have missed some important undercurrent of meaning.

In an effort to give us an unexpected ending (which is difficult if you are basing your work on a Shakespearean play), Wroblewski misses at the end. Finding the right exit is often harder than any other part of writing. One of the things, I might note, that Shakespeare did marvelously. I didn't feel cheated, I just felt a tad let down. It was still worth the time spent with these characters and I would not hesitate to accompany this author on another journey in the future. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
This novel is so rich and sweeping. Rarely have I loved a book THIS much. I've read it twice now, and the second time was even better than the first. I have a hard time putting into words just how special, how precious this book is. Incredible work. ( )
  liannecollins | Jun 10, 2022 |
Hamlet but with dogs. Edgar is a mute boy who grows up on a farm where his parents raise dogs. These aren't just any dogs - they are breeding dogs that are highly intelligent and personable. Anyway things are great until Edgar's uncle Claude moves in with the family. Then as the story goes on the reader starts to realize that it's very much like Hamlet. The story is very inventive, the dog scenes are wonderful, as are the descriptive scenes - and the ghost scenes. Fans of literary fiction should enjoy those aspects.
I myself felt like the story dragged on, it took a long time for things to happen. As the Hamlet aspects grew apparent I also started to anticipate that it would have a messy ending, and of course I was right. It is good fodder for discussion, but not one that I would want to pick up again. ( )
  debs4jc | Apr 6, 2022 |
I read and listened to this book at the same time. The narrator was very good. I enjoyed the writing but the ending was a disappointment. The author may have just written The End, it seemed rushed and anticlimactic. ( )
  Dairyqueen84 | Mar 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 390 (next | show all)
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a dutiful procession through the main events of [Hamlet]. The Mousetrap scene, in which Edgar trains his dogs to act out his father’s murder in front of Claude, is marvelous—Wroblewski loves writing about dogs and he’s great at it—but the other pages are still covered by translucent drafter’s blueprints. Here’s Polonius, the meddler, here’s Laertes, the avenging son, and so on. (The Laertes figure isn’t introduced until page 489 and he’s as puzzled as the rest of us about why he’s supposed to kill a fourteen-year-old boy.) Wroblewski is only at pains to apply himself when there’s a chance his characters might become complicated and unsympathetic.
 
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, all 566 pages, is surprising and rewarding. It's worth savoring, both its story and its storytelling.
added by Katya0133 | editUSA Today, Bob Minzesheimer (Jun 19, 2008)
 
High literary art from a talent that bears watching.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Ian Chipman (Jun 1, 2008)
 
This is the best book I've read in a long time.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (May 19, 2008)
 
[A] spellbinding first novel . . .
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 15, 2008)
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Wroblewskiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lill, DebraCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poe, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AlisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. ~Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
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For Arthur and Ann Wroblewski
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After dark the rain began to fall again, but he had already made up his mind to go and anyway it had been raining for weeks.
Quotations
High in the crown of a charred tree, an owl revolved its dished face, and one branch down, three small replicas followed.
He thought of his father standing in the barn doorway peering skyward as a thunderstorm approached, while his mother shouted, ‘Gar, get indoors, for God’s sake.’ That was how it was, sometimes. You put yourself in front of the thing and waited for whatever was going to happen and that was all. It scared you and it didn’t matter. You stood and faced it. There was no outwitting anything. … It was not a morbid thought, just the world as it existed. Sometimes you looked the thing in the eye and it turned away. Sometimes it didn’t.
He’d left in confusion, but his return was clarifying. So much of what had been obscure while he faced away was now evident. … So much of the world was governed by chance. … Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed, ready to eat them alive. You swam in a river of chance and coincidence. You clung to the happiest accidents—the rest you let float by. … Some things were certain—they had already happened—but the future would not be divined. … The future was no ally. A person had only his life to barter with.
Most people thought training meant forcing their will on a dog. Or that training required some magical gift. Both ideas were wrong. Real training meant watching, listening, diverting a dog’s exuberance, not suppressing it. You couldn’t change a river into a sea, but you could trace a new channel for it to follow.
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A tale reminiscent of "Hamlet" that also celebrates the alliance between humans and dogs follows speech-disabled Wisconsin youth Edgar, who bonds with three yearling canines and struggles to prove that his sinister uncle is responsible for his father's death.

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