Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Wroblewski, David "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle"

Wroblewski, David "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" - 2008

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was all about a boy who was born without a voice and/or about dogs. Because that's the feeling you first get. But the longer I read on, the more the story seemed familiar. Had I looked at the names a little closer, I might have guessed right away that this is a modern retelling of Hamlet.

An interesting story, just as exciting as the original. I'm not a huge animal lover, I don't have anything against them but I don't get all excited when I see one, so this story could have been told without all the dogs in it.

Anyway, I prefer Jane Smiley's modern "King Lear" (A Thousand Acres) to this one but all in all, it's not a bad book.

From the back cover:
"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 remarkable gift for companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. Edgar seems poised to carry on his family's traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil.

Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the Sawtelle farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who accompany him, until the day he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.

Filled with breathtaking scenes - the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain - The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a meditation on the limits of language and what lies beyond, a brilliantly inventive retelling of an ancient story, and an epic tale of devotion, betrayal, and courage in the American heartland."


  1. I've not read this one, but a Thousand Acres is on my TBR. I love stories with animals in them. We've always had pets of one kind or another so I guess I just identify with pet owners.

    1. I think that is one of the reasons I'm not keen on stories where pets play the major role but this wasn't the reason I read it. It was the Hamlet connection and I thought the story about a mute child might be interesting.

      I highly recommend A Thousand Acres.

      Happy Reading,

  2. I normally avoid "dog books" like the plague but I loved this novel. When I read it I did not even know about the Hamlet connection and to this day I still have not read or seen Hamlet in any production. Did Hamlet have animals?
    Here is my review: http://keepthewisdom.blogspot.com/2010/02/story-of-edgar-sawtelle.html

    1. I read Hamlet a while ago and there is a scene about a dead dog, as far as I remember but it certainly is not about dogs.

      Some of the characters from the play are depicted as dogs in this novel, mainly his friends (Ophelia is Almondine, Tinder and Baboo are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Essay is Horatio), others as humans (Trudy is Gertrude, Claude is Claudius, Edgar and his father "Gar" share the same name, as does Hamlet. Dr. Papineau is Polonius, Laertes is Glen). I'm sure I misssed a few but if you read both stories, you'd find the connection easily.

      I will head over to your page right away. ;)

      Have a good day,