Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle : a review

Born mute, speaking only in sign language, Edgar grows up in a dog-breeding family in Wisconsin. His uncle Claude arrives after a long absence - presumably prison, but that is never explained. After Edgar's father, dies suddenly, Claude begins hanging around the farm more and involving himself in their business and personal lives. Edgar doesn’t trust him and begins to suspect that Claude is responsible for his own brother's death, but his plan to prove this goes awry, forcing Edgar to flee.

I liked the book, but didn't love it. Integral to the story is a vial of poison that Claude purchased long ago in South Korea, but it is unclear why he purchased it (is this related to his prison sentence?) and I also didn't understand his motivations for using it the way he did later. Perhaps I should have inferred all of this from the story, but Claude and his actions, and his background, are a mystery to me. I also had a difficult time determining how old Edgar was. I thought for a long time that he was around ten until about halfway through the book he was referred to as being 14. This isn't a big deal, but did change my view of him a bit.

Edgar was a great character and he alone made the book completely worth reading. I also really liked the idea of breeding dogs that were special in some way, though never having had a dog I don't have a good understanding of how they differ from regular dogs. I still enjoyed reading all about the Sawtelle dogs, and about their training and their relationship with Edgar. Though I didn't love the book as much as others I've talked to about it, I still found it a very good read. Now that the cool weather is upon us and we'll all be spending more time curled up indoors, I recommend this somewhat lengthy novel for your fall reading. A great choice!

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