Book Review: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Catalog - booksDavid Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, says his book is not about a dog.  And, in the larger, more general sense, I guess he’s right since every book, in some way, is about the relationships between people.  But, if this is not exactly a book about a dog, it nevertheless is one of the most sensitive and moving portraits of a dog that any author has ever created.

For writers seeking to publish for the first time, this author’s story should provide motivation to keep you going.  Working as a computer programmer during the day, David wrote The Story of Edgar Sawtelle at night, over a five year period.  He didn’t think it would be published and was quite surprised when it was accepted. Then, after two years, a time when even the best books have lost momentum and drop off all the lists, it became an Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection for September, 2008.

Cover of "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A ...

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a suspense novel about the adventures of the 14-year-old mute boy  named in the title and his faithful companion, his dog Almondine. The pair lead idyllic lives on a Wisconsin farm where Edgar’s family raises a particularly intelligent breed of (fictional) dog like Almondine until Edgar’s father’s sudden death and the arrival of a beguilingly evil uncle throws the duo’s lives into turmoil.

That some of the events are narrated by the dog (a very tricky device in the hands of lesser writers), lends both an unusual perspective and undeniable charm to this radiant story. Yet, this was not an easy “dog book.” Full of mystery, crisis, torment, ghosts and murder, it is written in such deft prose that one quickly becomes submerged in the story. This is long book (576 pages) but once I finished the first chapter (which I found murky and difficult to understand – although meaningful once the story develops) I simply couldn’t put it down. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a wonderful, deeply moving story. The author has promised a sequel. I can’t wait to read it!

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle has been endorsed by many, including Stephen King, who called it “a novel about the human heart, and the mysteries that live there.”

David Wroblewski on Dogs:
In creating a mythology around the unusual dogs bred on the Sawtelle farm in his novel, the author posed the question, “How far could we go if we stopped breeding dogs for silly physical traits and concentrated instead on intelligence and imagination?”

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5 Responses to Book Review: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

  1. Norman W Wilson,Phd May 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    This books sure sounds like it portrays the relationship many dogs have with their humans. Good movie material if it has not been into film. Certainly, the kicker to its success is the question the author raises. And it is an excellent question.

  2. Heidi M. Thomas May 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    This does sound fascinating! I’ll have to put it on my TBR list. Thanks, Patricia. Have you read “The Art of Racing in the Rain”? I found that fascinating as well (from the dog’s POV).

  3. Kathleen Kaska May 1, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    This sounds wonderful. I thought of Racing in the Rain, too. Thanks for passing this along.

  4. Samm May 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I am not sure that I have always enjoyed Oprah’s picks but for sure you have never steered me wrong on any of your selections. This sounds like something I would definitely enjoy. Thanks Dr. B.

  5. Marie Grime May 11, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Sounds like a great book, Dr. B, but not one I would read. Since I nightmare easily, I avoid anything Stephen King would like and stick to romantic comedies.

    As for David Wroblewski’s question, I don’t want dogs to get any smarter than they already are. Here’s an example of why:

    Hubby wanted to bathe Sally before we went to the vet, so he adjusted the temperature on the bath water and left it running, then called her. No Sally. Searched the house over; no Sally.

    She had been outside in our fenced in yard, and Hubby began to think I had forgotten to let her in, so he looked several times in our tiny yard, checked the fence for holes, looked behind and under things in the utility room; no Sally. He got on the floor looking under furniture; no Sally.

    Meanwhile, the water’s still running in the bathtub, and I am super-sensitive about wasting water, so I was yelling him to turn the bleeping water off. He finally turned it off muttering in protest because he didn’t want to go through all the adjusting part again.

    When he turned the water off and went running around in the neighborhood, calling her, I took her treat bag and walked around the house rattling the bag; still no Sally.

    Finally, I took her leash and let the buckle of it fall onto the floor. In a second, I heard the pitter patter of little Sally feet. She had found a place to hide under that couch where Hubby didn’t have an angle to see her, and we were late for that vet appointment.

    So no thanks, Mr. Wroblewski. Dogs are smart enough already!

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