The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

sawtelleThis is another book that Amanda kindly loaned me that I had wanted to read for a little while. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski, is billed as a story about a boy and his dogs but it’s a lot more than that. Wroblewski is a fantastic writer – I got lost in a lot of his descriptions. One thing I wished I had known before reading the book is that it is inspired from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. I think a lot more of the story line would have made sense right off the bat if I had known that.

The story is about a mute boy, Edgar, and his relationship to the unique dogs that his family breeds, the Sawtelle Dogs. The first part of the story sets up the relationships between Edgar, his mother, father and uncle Claude. In my opinion, this part of the story dragged a little but is made up for when the second part of the story takes off with Edgar’s father’s death under mysterious circumstances. After trying to communicate this with his mother, his mom ends up falling for his uncle. This causes strife and Edgar, through a series of misunderstandings, ghost encounters and a big mishap, ends up running away for awhile. He learns to live life as a runaway with several of the dogs and ultimately ends up returning home. If you remember the ending for Hamlet, the ending for this book is pretty similar.

While I enjoyed the writing style of this book a lot, I felt like there are some areas of confusion that I was left with. I know a lot of people had problems with the way the story ended, but for me, I was more bothered by some of the loose ends. For example, what role did Forte (the wild dog) have in the story? Where were the dogs going at the end? What was the significance of Korea in the beginning, besides getting the poison? Why was Claude there? Were the Papineau’s good or bad? I mean, I guess real life doesn’t ever tie everything up with a pretty little bow, and maybe some of those things were left open so the reader could make of them what they wanted, but I felt like I needed just a little more guidance in a few of those areas.

7/10 – not my favorite book, but beautiful writing and an interesting modern retelling of Hamlet.

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  1. […] In Books on December 29, 2009 at 12:06 am I’ve been slightly curious about the novel “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” for a while, but the fact that it was in Oprah’s Book Club turned me off for whatever […]

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