Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a novel of epic proportions, both in size (576 pages) and content.  Some people describe this novel as a story about a boy and his dogs, but it is much more.  At some points it is sweet and at others it is a punch in the gut.  At all times it is a masterpiece in story telling.  Loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, expect a tragedy.  Expect loss.  Expect illicit love.  

As a student of Shakespeare, and Hamlet being one of my favorite plays, I have to say I simply thought The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was brilliantly written. I've noticed MANY reviewers saying they did not like the end of the novel--and without posting a spoiler I will say this--Hamlet' story was a tragedy, and so is the story of Edgar. Tragedies never have happy endings, do they? Of course not. Tragedies reveal the human condition--brutal as it can be, intertwined with love and tenderness.

One of the most unique transformations from Hamlet to this novel was the character of Ophelia, represented here by a beautiful dog, Almondine. I absolutely loved the chapters written from Almondine's point of view--especially one line where she was noting the delivery of mail on a daily basis--the mailbox caught and released the man every day. (paraphrased) There are many little gems like this scattered throughout the book.

One element I loved in Hamlet, but is missing from this story, is the advice that Polonius gives his son, Laertes--you know, the famous "Not a beggar nor a borrower be" etc. Polonius is represented by the friendly old vet, Page, and his son is the town's buffoon sheriff deputy.

Don't think that it is Hamlet retold, though, because the book is not. It stands on its own merits. I'd love to read anything else by Wroblewski.

I'm usually not a fan of verbose writers, but Wroblewski paints such a vivid image in the reader's mind that I have to say the length and extended descriptions did not bother me and the reading went quickly. 

Highly recommended!  5 Blooms

No compensation was received for this book review.