Edgar Sawtelle is a 14 year old boy, born mute, who communicates with people using his own signs and body language.
He lives on a farm in rural Wisconsin with his parents.
His father raises the Sawtelle dogs. This is a breed his father started. The dogs are an unusual breed. They
communicate with humans by distinguishing personality and temperament and have the ability to make decisions and
anticipate commands. Edgar's father carries on the work of his father.
Their lives are peaceful until Edgar's Uncle Claude returns and causes turmoil. A pet dog is discovered killed.
Then Edgar's father dies suddenly. Claude takes over the farm and Edgar's mother’s affections. Edgar suspects Claude
and tries to prove that Claude played a role in his father's death. But he is not believed, and circumstances force
him to flee into the vast wilderness beyond the farm. With him are three yearling Sawtelle dogs. He is forced to
fight for survival.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a well written story with vivid descriptions of nature and the terrors of
the wilderness. Part of the story is narrated from the dog's perspective. The characters are memorable, especially
Edgar and his mother. The scenes of the North Woods and the descriptions of the changes of the seasons are
breathtaking. The author is very articulate. He explores the themes of loss, revenge, guilt, adultery and grief in
detail. This is a long, slow-paced story.