Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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I am very torn about this book, on one hand I couldn't get enough of it, on the other there were times I felt like skimming (and I am NOT a skimmer by any stretch of the imagination).  The writing was tre magnifique so that bumps it up a few notches but the story was a little slow moving, and let me think.... Ummm... Familiar?  Yes yes, that's it, it was very familiar, I think I have read it before... Now let me think... Who was the author?  Oh that's right Shakespeare!  This story was a modern day version of Hamlet... but with well trained dogs instead of kins men, and mid-western farm folk instead of royalty.  And though the story line was almost exact, the main character and the fabulous writing made up for the predictable plot line.  I know you can always argue that almost every modern day story has a little Shakespeare in it; I mean the man was the foundation on which modern day literature was built, but this story followed the plot of Hamlet so close I was waiting for the main character to break out in a soliloquy.  But alas, that wouldn't happen because unlike Shakespeare's Hamlet, David Wrobelwski's protagonist was a little boy named Edgar and he was MUTE! 

So here is the plot line...  Do I really need to tell you?  Okay I'll make is short and sweet.  Edgar is mute (has been from birth, genius idea making this boy mute, in my opinion), he lives on a farm with his mother Trudy and father Gar, and their family dog Almondine (Almondine is cast as Ophilia if you'd like to know).  The family breeds a fictional boutique style dog (think a cross breed like labradoodles but these are more shepherd type dogs).  These dogs are known as The Sawtelle Dogs and these loyal mutts are extremely well trained.  Anyway, Edgar's uncle Claude moves to town and he comes off as a rough neck kinda fella.  Then mysteriously Edgar's father dies, his mother falls in love with Claude and Edgar knows there was foul play involved.    Edgar goes a little nuts runs away with a pack of dogs into the wilderness and we know that if we were reading Hamlet that the end doesn't come out all hunky dory.  There is a ghost, there is a broken hearted female (dog), there is poison, there is fighting, there is death.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some twists and unexpected turns along the way but this is a LONG book and I felt like there were lots of pages to tell a not very long story.  If you read my blog regularly you know how much I love a well written piece of work and this was just that.  It was a masterpiece between the covers (and the cover wasn't too shabby either).  If you like books about dogs, if you like Shakespeare, if you like stories about simple mid-west farm folks, if you are in a book club, then you will probably like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.  So read it and let me know if you are as conflicted with it as I am.

BOOK vs. MOVIE: I did a little research, as I always do for this section, and found out that The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is in fact being adapted to a screenplay by William Broyles Jr. for Universal Studios and will be produced by Oprah and Tom Hanks through their production companies Harpo and Playtone.  I would LOVE to see this book made into a well done movie, I may really like the screen version better than the book or at least be less conflicted by it.  It would be fascinating to see how they would portray Edgar seeing as he is mute and for the vast majority of the book he is alone with a bunch of dogs that also don't say much. :)

RATING:  Ummmm.....  Lets say 3.75 Stars (I have never given a fractional rating before)

3 More Reviews of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle:
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wrobelwski
ISBN: 9780061374227
Pages: 576

If you liked this book than read: From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz


  1. This is a great review that describes the book really well!! I felt the same way about the book... at first I loved it, but then it sort of fizzled out for me. The writing was good, though. And I agree (despite my recent post on how I hate movie adaptations, lol) that this story might be good as a movie. I think I would like a well done movie adaption of it!

  2. I'd completely agree. I read this book about a year ago and although I enjoyed it I didn't love it. A good read, but not one I recommend.

    thanks for the great review.

  3. Loved your review of this one...I've never been really tempted by it, but I've read books that I reacted to similarly - loving them at first, and then loathing them by the end.

    Love your blog too :)

  4. The retelling of Hamlet angle didn't strike me as that odd or "predictable" - authors do that all the time (hmmm...fodder for a blog post?) - but what bugged me more was how the book almost totally fell apart at the end. You're right, the writing is beautiful, but like you and your other commenters, I left it with a sense that I had enjoyed it, but that I probably wouldn't be picking it up again or necessarily recommending it too highly to friends.

  5. I have been so curious about this one for a long time. Great review. Thanks! :-)

  6. This book has been languishing on my TBR for some months now.. I'm really not in any hurry to read it now!! Maybe some day... LOL :)

  7. This book really is gripping and really drew me in and I visualized it so well it felt like I lived in it! Wish the ending could have been different but oh well, hope they don't screw up the movie! But if Tom Hanks is in it it should be good no matter what!