What I’m Reading: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

I saw this book come up in my Facebook feed. I ignored it. The book came into my feed again. I ignored it again. The book came into my feed again. This time, I actually looked at the cover. Well, there was a person and a dog on the cover. It said it was an Oprah book club piece. I decided I might as well give it a try…and that’s how The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski came into my listening app.

I listened to the first couple of chapters and I was immediately hooked. Another book came up in my feed that I was on a waitlist and I ignored it. This book was so good.

…and then it wasn’t. The book slowed. The story twisted into something that for me wasn’t believable. Then it slowed some more…then to top it off, the ending really wasn’t a conclusion ending. It was just an ending that left the lives and deaths of the characters at no real starting point or ending point. Admittedly, by the time I got to the last chapter I was just done. I wasn’t really interested in the book anymore. Maybe in that last chapter, I missed something…but I sure don’t think I did.

Normally I am not a big fan of books that have an epilogue. This book needed one.

In the book, there is some boyhood anger between brothers that comes back as when the men are adults but there is no developed true reason why there was the anger to start with.

Here’s what Amazon had to say:

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life on his family’s farm in remote northern Wisconsin, where they raise and train an extraordinary breed of dog. But when tragedy mysteriously strikes, Edgar is forced to flee into the vast neighboring wilderness, accompanied by three yearling dogs. He comes of age in the wild, struggling for survival, until the day Edgar is forced to choose between leaving forever and returning home to learn the truth behind what has happened.

Filled with breathtaking scenes—the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain—The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a meditation on the limits of language and what lies beyond, a brilliantly inventive retelling of an ancient story, and an epic tale of devotion, betrayal, and courage in the American heartland.”

Amazon readers gave the book 4.1 stars. Me, I could give it 2 stars. For me, that means the book is not worth your time. I’m wondering if it got the ratings it did because of the “Oprah’s Book Club” stamp.

Has anyone else read this book? I hope you were either smart enough to not finish it or somehow got more out of the book than I did!!

You can find the book HERE if you are interested.

13 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle”

  1. It was a ‘no’ for me too. I read it a few years ago when it was a big Book Club book and people were raving about it. I just didn’t get it but assumed it was me because I don’t like a lot of Book Club books (the reason I’m not in a book club).

    Oh well, plenty more books in the library.

  2. I haven’t read this book nor had I ever heard of it. It’s too bad the book didn’t live up to the review. The review made it sound interesting.

  3. Jo, thanks for the review. I’ve read other books that you have recommended and I like them. With that said, I will not be reading this. Again, thanks for saving me the time. I already have many books on my reserved list.

  4. I read the book years ago when it first come out and like you, was interested in it for a while. I disliked the ending, or non-ending. But as I recall, the author was inspired by the characters in the Shakespearean plan, Hamlet, and the ending reflected that.

  5. I haven’t read it but to be honest, that kind of book doesn’t interest me. I hate it when you buy a book and lose interest in it most of the way through. That’s why Libraries have always appealed to me. If I didn’t like it, I returned it! :-)

  6. I listen to books on my i-pad and borrow them through our library on Hoopla . If I start listening and give it a good try and don’t enjoy it I just return it. Too many good books out there. I always read your blog and thank you for the book reviews.

  7. I totally agree with you. I read it back when it was big. It was so good in the beginning and I thought could have had a very interesting, believable ending. It gave me the feeling of a writer that didn’t know how to end it. Never could recommend it.

  8. Thanks for the review. I find I don’t like book club books, especially Oprah’s. One year I decided I should read more of the top 100 books and found them to be equally boring. They were all the same with weird themes and odd endings and making them into movies didn’t improve them. At the beginning of the week I began the next book on my list and now 5 days in I’m only on page 50 rather than done. Yesterday I read an online review of the book and found it had been made into one of Oprah’s book club books. I usually avoid those so I’m not sure I’m going to continue. Good thing there are different authors for all the people who like different types of books.

  9. I too read the book when it first came out. I don’t care for Opera’s books because they are usually very dark, negative and depressing but this one was especially terrible.
    Brother kills brother and then it gets worse.
    I’ve thought a lot about this book over the years since I’ve read it and I think I’m so angry about it not for the wasted time but because it was dark and violent without an ending. The person that gifted it was thinking I’d like it because of all the hype. Absolutely hated it. I thought the plot was something along the lines of Nature vs. Nurture?

    1. I was trying to reply to a few comments and when I click on “reply” the page just scrolls down. Anyway, I steer away from anything that is in the Oprah book club. Just don’t care for anything I’ve read before. Thanks for the review of this book. Take care , Jo. pam

  10. I wasn’t a fan either. I read it years ago and I remember there being some sort of inconsistency somewhere in the story and then it was over for me. I’m always puzzled when people say they love that book. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion.

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