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Topic: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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Subject: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Date Posted: 11/18/2008 4:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/9/2006
Posts: 10
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Just finished it...I want to talk about it, but only with those that have finished it.

What did you think of the book?

How about the ending?

The loose ends...?


Date Posted: 11/18/2008 7:29 PM ET
Member Since: 5/22/2005
Posts: 1,592
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I read it and really enjoyed it even though the end was not was I expected.  That is one of the reasons I liked the book.........it was all unexpected. I have never read a book that explores the kind of relationships in the way  that Edgar Sawtelle does. What loose ends do you mean?

Date Posted: 11/19/2008 8:46 AM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2008
Posts: 1,748
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I will have to join this later, I'm only 1/2 through.

Date Posted: 11/25/2008 6:42 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2008
Posts: 340
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I know I'm in the minority, but I'm lukewarm on this book.  I think after reading all the hype, my expectations were too high.  I did like the ending though.  The one part of the hype that I agree with is, once you read the book, you'll want a Sawtelle dog.

Last Edited on: 11/25/08 6:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/3/2009 12:00 PM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2006
Posts: 2,077
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I just finished this. I loved the story all of the way through, but I was very unsatisfied with the ending. It's not that I needed a happy ending, but I was unclear about what happened with the dogs. The author seems to assume that we know what they did, but I didn't get it. I'm not usually one who needs plot developments explained to me by the author, but he seemed to be indicating that they were making a clear choice. I have no idea what that was.

re: loose ends. I didn't feel so much that there were loose ends, but (as with the ending) that the author made a lot of assumptions that you were following his train of thought about the significance of certain things. The letters between John and Albert (I think that was his name) for instance. I got the gist of their conversation, but what was the fruition of the conversation? Throughout the whole book, I kept feeling like I was missing something--some key piece of information or a lost chapter. I think one major loose end is Forte (both the first and the second). More specifically, what was the role of the second dog? I expected him to mate with one of the dogs (Essay?) to create the "next dog" that John was striving for.

But yes, I want a Sawtelle dog.

ETA: I just read reviews on Amazon that summed up my issues with the book more aptly than I have done here. In a nutshell, I guess, if you have read Hamlet you will get the book and maybe understand some of what the author was intending. It's one of the few pieces by Shakespeare that I never got around to reading. Guess I will now.

Last Edited on: 1/3/09 12:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/3/2009 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 56
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Sorry, I had very high hopes for this, as it's received great reviews, and several people I know loved it. But because of his weird writing style & voice (and the weird footnotes), I gave up after page 10. I will wait for the movie.
Date Posted: 1/3/2009 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 344
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I agree with Lisa, above. I just finished the book this week and after loving the whole book, I was really dissatisfied by the ending. At first I thought maybe a second reading would clear things up for me, but it didn't, really. One thought my SO's mother (who lent me the book) and I had discussed was that the dogs may have gone to Henry, led there by Essay. I'd love to hear other opinions!
Date Posted: 1/3/2009 9:09 PM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2006
Posts: 2,077
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Rachel, my version didn't have any footnotes. Wonder if you got an ARC or something?

Susan, that was my guess, that Essay took the rest of the dogs to Henry, but it's not very clear, nor is there any compelling reason to think that she would. Either that or she was just taking them to live in the wild around the lake with Forte. Honestly, I was not sure either way. If someone can pinpoint a better explanation of the ending, I'd love to hear it, too.

Date Posted: 1/3/2009 11:20 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
Posts: 1,337
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I didn't read any reviews prior to reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, so I wasn't aware of the connection to Hamlet. I've never read Hamlet, but would have assumed that there would be tragedy involved and might have chosen another book. I'm glad I didn't because I did like the writing style. I was riveted by Edgar and the dogs from the start, especially Almondine. I do have a 14 yr old son and he has a golden who is everyone's baby, so that may be the reason that I was so drawn to these characters, but also the reason that I threw the book down at the end and said I would never read another Wroblewski book after sobbing "no, you can't do this to Edgar!". Almondine's thoughts at the end were so heartwrenching and the fact that Edgar didn't make it home in time...arghhh...stick the knife in my heart even deeper! I should have known early on what heartbreak awaited me after what happened when Edgar's mom had a miscarraige and tried to save the animal they found (a wolf maybe?). That was an early warning even more so than the miscarraige itself.

I assumed that Essay herded the dogs into the forest to begin a new life in the wild. She was the most freewilled of Edgar's dogs and I also assumed that Forte would be part of the group, and the group would benefit from his already having returned to the wild. I also assumed that Forte and Essay would  add some desired traits to the Sawtelle breed.

The biggest loose end for me was what happened to Edgar's mother, Trudy? You know that she had bouts of depression, but in the end did she die or lose it completely after she realized that she lost Edgar? I would assume that is another correlation to Hamlet and if I really want to know, I could just read Hamlet.

To physically describe how this book affected me, I'd have to make like I'm sticking a knife in my heart and twisting it and though I will approach his next book very cautiously, I have to appreciate a writer that can evoke such strong emotions in me.

Date Posted: 1/4/2009 9:20 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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I couldn't say that I liked the ending, but it seemed like the only way it could end.

I generally don;t like sad books, and I did not really like this one, but it was an incredible piece of story-telling, and writing. This writer is a genius, I'm convinced, but that doesn;t mean I'll like all his books.

Date Posted: 1/6/2009 5:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 5,034
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While the ending was not the ending I wanted... the ghost of Almandine conforted me so that I didn't feel heart wrenched at the end.  I was SOOO sad that he didn't make it home in time... but in spirit she was still there... that was a great comfort.  The whole  ghost thing was very intriguing.

There are so many unanswered questions in the book.  How DID Edgar's parents meet? Was there even more back history with Edgar's uncle?  Who else had the uncle killed?  Did Edgar's dad really kill the original Forte or was that an Uncle lie? 

While I have lots of questions.  The characters are so vividly drawn they leapt off the page for my and were vividly created in my imagination.

Date Posted: 1/21/2009 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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I really did think this was one of the most stunningly beautiful books I have read in years. I don;t often like sad books, it was in many parts,. but the writing is incredible.

The unanswered questons do not bother me at all. That's life....but I also have to wonder if he would do a sequel. It certainly seems open for that. But many serious literary writers look down their noses at sequels/series.....