2008 "First Edition" stated on copyright page; Harper Collins Publishers, New York; Oprah's Book Club selection; hardbound; very good condition with unmarked pages; dust jacket very good.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is the first novel by American author David Wroblewski. It became a New York Times Best Seller on June 29, 2008, and Oprah Winfrey chose it for her book club on September 19, 2008. Winfrey also included the book as one of the few tangible gifts in her recession-themed thrifty Oprah's Favorite Things that year.
The novel is a retelling of William Shakespeare's Hamlet in rural Wisconsin. The title character is a mute boy who, after his father is killed, runs away from but then returns to his usurped home, hoping to prove his suspicions that his uncle murdered his father.
Edgar comes from a line of dog breeders. After buying a farm, his grandfather, John Sawtelle, rents out the farmland and starts dog breeding. He and his wife have two sons, Edgar's father (Gar) and Claude. Claude leaves the farm and Gar stays on and carries on the family business. After some troubled attempts to have a child, Gar and his wife (Trudy) have Edgar. After his parents come to understand that he is mute his parents learn sign language along with him, some made up and some real signs. Edgar grows up on the farm learning to breed dogs with his parents and Almondine, his own dog who is always by his side and in a way speaks for him. Once he is old enough, his parents give him his own litter to raise.
Eventually, Claude returns to the farm. After a brief stint of helping out around the house and barn, he leaves after a drunken brawl with Gar. A few weeks later, Edgar finds his father in the barn, dying mysteriously. After unsuccessfully trying to call for help, Edgar watches his father die.
After burying Gar, Edgar and Trudy decide to keep the family business running, despite the new workload. However, shortly after beginning to adjust to Gar's death, Trudy catches pneumonia and Edgar attempts to carry on the work without her. With his mother sick, Edgar begins to fall out of the routine. He falls asleep in the barn one evening and wakes to realize it is now night. The dogs had gone so long without their meal, Edgar decides to let all of the dogs loose in the kennel and pour a large pile of kibble in the center for them. Before long, two dogs end up in a vicious fight. With both dogs injured and their vet out of town, they must call on Claude for assistance. After he helps treat the dogs and Trudy recovers, they begin to sleep together.
One night not long after, Edgar wakes to the dogs barking and goes to investigate. Searching around in a storm for what was causing the dogs to bark, he sees the outline of his father's ghost in the rain. Through signs, Edgar is led to the syringe that most likely killed his father – one that he has seen Claude use before.
What Hands Do
After Edgar confirms for sure that his mother and Claude are indeed romantically involved, he struggles to live under the same roof with his uncle. He comes to seek confirmation for his suspicions about his father's murder...