Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book Review:The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Book Description: 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.

I had heard about this novel and had wanted to read it before it was chosen by Oprah's Book Club which then skyrocketed the interest in this book. This is a debut novel by David Wroblewski which is quite impressive. The writing is at times beautiful and poetic but overall, the story fell flat for me. I adored the main character Edgar who is mute, an only child and wise beyond his years. The relationship that he has with his parents is very touching. They had difficulty having a child and his mother Trudy had suffered a miscarriage that deeply affected her. Edgar's parents, Trudy and Gar love their son immensely and created their own way to speak with him in sign language. Their relationship was very touching. Edgar's dog , Almondine, was one of the wise and special Sawtelle dogs that his grandfather had started breeding. Edgar and Almondine had a bond that was very deep and Almondine watched over Edgar since he was born. Claude, Edgars uncle arrives on the scene and disturbs their peaceful family. Claude and Gar have unresolved issues that play out in a way that is unclear to the reader. Edgars life was not an easy one and it was made worse when his father suddenly died. He was faced with the deep loss and mystery of his father's death as well as the bizarre relationship of his mother and Claude and he was forever changed. I wanted to like this book more than I did but I had very mixed feelings about the book and overall I found it a disapointing read. It was too long, at 566 pages, which in my opinion, needed editing. Some scenes and story lines dragged on way too long and I lost interest. The narrative jumps between different narrators, including the dogs, which made it hard to follow. I was deeply disapointed in the way the author chose to end the book. The author did not tie up many loose ends and many story lines were left uncompleted. I don't expect all books to have happy endings but of all the ways the book could have ended, it surprised me that the author chose to end it this way. After sticking with the book through to the end I felt the reader deserved more.

Website: http://www.edgarsawtelle.com/

For a different perspective you can check out these blog reviews:


  1. I don't know what to think about this one. I have a friend who likes a lot of the same books I do and she said she couldn't finish Edgar Sawtelle. Thanks for the honest review.

  2. Bonnie, from the blog reviews I've read, your's is not unusual. And this has been the case for me with many of Oprah's picks. I usually don't buy her picks anymore. Sorry you were disappointed with this one.

  3. Sorry this didn't turn out to be what you hoped for. It's a real bummer when so much time is invested and there's no satisfaction. Hope you next read is fabulous. :)

  4. Bummer, I have this book to read. I don't think I'll be rushing for it right away.

  5. I'm on the fence with this one. It sounds like a great book, but the many loose ends at the close of the book might drive me batty. Great review!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  6. This one is on my Fall Into Reading list. I have to get my butt in gear and start reading so I can get to it!

  7. You know, I can handle loose ends but uncompleted story lines bug me. They sound like the same thing, but in my mind, they're different.


  8. I agree that it was wordy. But, I liked the story. I agree with the loose ends, as well.. I had to re-read the ending to ensure that I got it.

    But, I still liked it.

    BTW... I've moved my site. The link you have on here is to my "dead" site... everything is moved over to anovelmenagerie (dot) com. All of my reviews and posts have been moved there, too. (Thanks for the shout-out... I appreciate it).


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