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As the title suggests, this book tells the story of Edgar Sawtelle, a young mute boy, who lives on a farm in Wisconsin with his parents.  They lead a very happy existence, breeding and training their unique  and brilliant dogs, known simply as Sawtelle Dogs.  However, when Edgar’s Uncle Claude comes to the farm, things change.  The tension between Edgar’s father (also called Edgar and known as ‘Gar’) and Claude is almost palpable, and eventually Claude leaves after a huge argument.  However, when events at the farm take a tragic turn, and Claude insinuates himself into the affections of Edgar’s mother Trudy, our eponymous hero realises that life as he knew it has changed forever, and he takes drastic action to try and make things right again…

Put simply – I loved this book!  It really is all kinds of awesome.  It did start slowly, and in fact up until about 40 pages in, I was considering giving up on it), but I’m so glad that I stuck to it.  It is a modernised retelling of Hamlet, but is also a beautiful and incredible story in its own right.  The characters are so beautifully drawn, and Edgar makes for a superb hero, in that he really isn’t a hero at all – he’s just a frightened boy whose safe world is turned upside down, and he tries to work out what has happened and put right all the wrongs.  Sometimes he makes bad choices, and they come back to haunt him, and sometimes he loses his way, but I found it impossible not to root for him throughout the story.  The characters of Trudy, Gar and Claude were also very well depicted – there is no black and white with these characters; none of them are wholly good and none of them are wholly bad, but by the end of the book I certainly felt that I had got to know them well. 

On teh subject of characters, it’s rare to find a book where dogs’ characters play such a huge part in the storyline, but it works perfectly here.  I fell in love with Edgar’s pet dog Almondine, and loved the short parts of the book that were written from her point of view (in fact, ti was hard not to cry at times).  The relationship between her and Edgar, and the level of feeling between them will be familiar to any dog owner.  While Almondine was more of a pet, the book also talks about the dogs that are raised on the farm, and throughout the story, we get to know some of them very well, and their individual characters also shine through and add to the story.

It is fair to say that the author is a somewhat verbose and ‘wordy’ writer, and often is so descriptive that two or three pages can pass without anything much happening.  But who cares when prose is as enjoyable as this?  The writing is eloquent and often beautiful, and inspired many emotions in me while I was reading this book.

In short, this book is one of those stories that only comes along very rarely – one that lingers in the mind long after you have turned the last page of the book.  highly, highly recommended.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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