The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


A literary debut of stark and striking brilliance - a coming-of-age story, set in the remote wilderness of northern Wisconsin.Born mute and able to communicate only by sign, the brilliant Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents Gar and Trudy.

For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomised by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong companion.

But when his beloved father mysteriously dies, Edgar blames himself, if only because his muteness left him unable to summon help.

Grief-stricken and bewildered by his mother's desperate affair with her dead husband's brother, Edgar's world unravels one spring night when, in the falling rain, he sees his father's ghost.

After a botched attempt to prove that his uncle orchestrated Gar's death, Edgar flees into the Chequamegon wilderness leading three yearling dogs.

Yet his need to face his father's murderer, and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs, turn Edgar ever homeward.

When he returns, nothing is as he expects, and Edgar must choose between revenge or preserving his family legacy...


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One of the best books I’ve read this year, a real highlight, and yet I’d hesitate to recommend it because it broke my heart a little bit. It was glorious, touching, made of more than a little magic and replete with history, but ultimately <i> The Story of Edgar Sawtelle</i> wanted to be a tragedy, and the reader just had to let it. I was shaking when I put this book down. Edgar – mute, yet gifted with words, gifted in other ways too, helps his parents run the family breeding kennels; Sawtelle dogs are special, sold as trained yearlings rather than pups, they have a spirit and understanding unmatched by pedigree breeds. When his uncle comes to live with them, the story becomes unavoidably Shakespearean, yet suffused with canine charm and deep with that small-town US family history that so many writers try and fail to express. To say that the characters are ‘lifelike’ is to belittle the author’s accomplishments… I’ve encountered no one who could make the personalities of individual humans, let along <i>dogs</i>, leap off the page; Almondine, Edgar’s companion from birth, has simply one of the most heart-engagingly drawn souls I’ve ever read. Definitely worth reading, but allow for recovery time.