This book arrived in my hands after my mother insisted that I put down anything I was reading at the moment and start The Story of Edgar Sawtelle immediately. That kind of vehement recommendation was almost enough to make me follow her instructions, but I have a personal policy of never stopping a book once I have begun.
Let me preface anything else I write about this book by saying that I was raised in a family that loves dogs. We are dog people in every sense of the description. We raised labrador retrievers from the time I was nine years old until our most recent hybrid litter of labradoodles that we raised just last year. I cannot pass a dog on a leash without stooping to pet the scruff under its neck and learning its name from its owner. I dream of the day when I will be able to raise one of my own and hope to breed dogs when I am older like my parents did.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a novel about this special relationshipbetween man and dog. It defines it as a mystical connection and incorporates supernatural situations in the story to illustrate this theme. The plot of the novel describes a family who has searched for the perfect combination of qualities that will form the perfect breed of dog.
The “Sawtelle Dogs” are raised and trained with extreme detail and precision. They are a unique breed trained to hold eye contact and respond to commands with soldier-like, devoted adherence. Edgar Sawtelle is the youngest of the Sawtelle clan and was born without the ability to speak. He learns to communicate with his own dog, Almondine, via sign language.
After the untimely and suspicious death of his father, Edgar must carry on the difficult tasks of maintaining the kennel and taking care of his depression-stricken mother. However, the value of the Sawtelle dogs attracts the return of an outcast relative who seeks to gain control now that Edgar’s father is out of the picture.
Edgar is forced to forgo his childhood innocence to protect the Sawtelle legacy. However, complications arise that force Edgar to flee his home and everything he has ever known.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is enchanting and will capture the attention of anyone who has had a special relationship with a dog. I recommend it wholeheartedly.