Monday, January 19, 2009



The author of THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE, David Wroblewski wrote, “ We write the stories we wish we could read…..THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE came about because some time ago I wished I could read a novel about a boy and his dog…” Oh, that it would be so seemingly effortless for all of us to write such an amazing, mystifying, magnificent, thoughtful story like Wroblewski did! I often think of an idea that would make a good story but alas, you don’t see my name on the best seller list or even published. Acknowledging that the author took over ten years to write this phenomenal novel is not surprising. But what he has given to readers is a gift well worth that time.

THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE is a tale of love, and courage, and dedication. This is truly a character study even when some of the characters are dogs. The Sawtelle dogs are a mythical breed that was handed down from generations to the time when the story begins. Edgar Sawtelle, who was born mute, and speaks by sign language, is living with his parents, Gar and Trudy Sawtelle, on a breeding farm in northern Wisconsin in the 1970s. Edgar’s parents waited so long for a child and with Edgar’s birth, their life seems perfect and complete. The Sawtelle dogs they raise are well trained and bred carefully. They are known for their dignified disposition and the instinctive ability to predict their trainer’s command and then act on it. Their reputation is known near and far, and Gar is painstakingly careful about keeping records and interviewing prospective owners before placing one of his Sawtelle pups. One of Edgar’s many tasks is the naming of the new dogs when they are born. Edgar’s faithful companion from his birth is a Sawtelle named Almondine, who is a central character as well. The unconditional love between trainers and dogs is central to the story’s plot. Readers will share in the very real feelings that Edgar has for his dogs, especially Almondine, through the elegant mastery of words that Wroblewski writes. His descriptions of the settings leave you breathless as you can visualize the farm and the barn, the change of seasons, the Chequamegon Forest, and yes, the description of the characters themselves, both humans and dogs.

When Edgar’s peaceful life is disrupted by the “homecoming” of his Uncle Claude, things change quickly. Edgar’s father dies suddenly and what appears to others to be a natural cause of death does not appear to Edgar that way. SAWTELLE is a fitting name in the book as Edgar is almost sure of what he SAW and finds out, but not sure how or if he should TELL his mother or anyone else. The story turns to one of Edgar versus Claude when Edgar tries to prove the role Claude had in his father’s death. Instead, the plan Edgar has does not go well at all, to say the least, and he flees into the forest with three of the dogs he had been training as pups. Edgar’s survival and adventures while away from home are vividly described with such brilliant writing that even the incidents in the story that are supernatural seem to be real and logical.

Some have questioned the ending of the story but I believe if you completely are involved with the characters and the story, you will understand the ending and its implications. This novel that is sure to become a classic should be read carefully and thoroughly. Relish the imagery, the relationships, the settings, and all that go into making David Wroblewski’s THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE one of the finest offerings in a long while.

Submitted by K.H. (Bingo) to,,