The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (SPOILERS!!)

kren250

I thought I'd start a thread on this book, since it's been so hyped as THE book of the summer. I just finished it yesterday, and have some thoughts on it:

***SPOILER ALERT!!!!*****************************

I liked the writing through out the book, especially the descriptions of the country side. I also liked reading about the Sawtelle dogs, and their abilities. And I thought Edgar was a very memorable character.

I DIDN'T like the way a few of the characters weren't fleshed out. We're never told what makes Claude tick; and why he kills Gar in the first place (money? Trudy? just plain evilness?). I also thought Glen was over-done to the point of not being very believable as a real character.

I HATED the ending. Not just that Edgar is killed (that I can live with, although it's sad), but that the truth is never revealed to Trudy or anyone else. So she goes on thinking that Edgar is maybe mentally imbalanced, and has no idea that Claude murdered both Gar and Edgar. If anything, in her mind Claude will probably be a hero since he went into the barn to help Edgar. Plus Glen will hate Edgar for blinding him and killing Dr. P, never realizing what really happened behind the whole story. That part of the ending infuriated me. And then that whole wrestling match between Trudy and Glen--good grief! The man is blind, Trudy can't just kick him where it hurts and get away from him? Such a contrived way to keep Trudy out of the picture while Edgar's in the barn. Then there's the Sawtelle dogs running off into the wilderness with Forte; most of those dogs will be dead within a year. Just a slapped on, unrealistic ending, IMO.

In all, I rated this book a 3/5 in my book journal.

For others who have read it, what are your thoughts on it? I've heard it referred to as a modern classic--do you agree or disagree?

Kelly

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woodnymph2_gw

I have not read it yet, but it is high up on my TBR list (or was). Thanks for posting your review of it --- spoilers never bother me! One of my best friends has it on her list for a book club discussion in the near future. Maybe I can borrow her copy, rather than buy it. It certainly is getting good reviews, in general.

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georgia_peach

I haven't read it, but one article I read discusses its parallels with Hamlet (see attachment). Does that impact anyone's perspective on it?

Here is a link that might be useful: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Hamlet, and the Golden Age of Dog Fiction

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kren250

I had heard to about the Hamlet connection; it did not change my views of the book, but then again, I've never read Hamlet:-). Maybe if I had I would think differently about it, but I doubt it since my complaints were more with the lack of rounded characters, and that ridiculous ending (still can't get the wrestling scene out of my mind;-).

Kelly

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frances_md

***************POTENTIAL SPOILERS****************


I have read Hamlet but to be honest I don't remember it well enough to compare to this book.

In my opinion Claude's motivation was jealousy. He wanted what Gar had, both his business (money) and his wife.

The part of the story that touched me the most was about Almondine. As a dog person, I thought the way the author described Almondine's feelings were so much the way my dog would think in the same circumstances and it just broke my heart that Almondine died without knowing that Edgar was coming back to see her. Edgar's dying didn't affect me nearly as much because by that point I was so incredibly sad nothing else could make much difference. Just thinking about Almondine now is making me cry again. I shed many tears over this book, something I hate to do.

As far as the ending being unrealistic, the book is not very realistic in general and probably wasn't intended to be. The "ghost" of Edgar's father and the intense training of the dogs and their special capabilities are two examples of the book being unrealistic to me. It has been several weeks since I finished it so I don't remember all the details as clearly now.

It just seemed like a very sad book with no hope and that is why I felt I couldn't recommend it. However, I did and still do think it was very well written. I certainly couldn't stop reading, even when crying like a baby. That must be a sign of a really good book. I wouldn't think it would be a classic, but who knows? Not me.

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kren250

Oh, yes, what happened with Almondine was so sad. I had a feeling she would die when Edgar had to leave without making up with her. Just horrible that he treated her so badly before he left; I wanted to reach through the pages and shake HIM;-)

Kelly

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amck2

I really loved this book. I finished it last night and can't get it out of my mind.

Of course, I hoped that Edgar and Almondine would be reunited before it was too late. And, of course, I wanted him to find the bottle and have Claude brought to justice. But all of that would have been too pat an ending and not in keeping with the tone of the book.

After my inital sadness over Edgar's death, there was a peace that settled in when I thought of how serene his passing was with Almondine at his side - again - and her letting him know she understood that he had "been lost" when he had acted thoughtlessly toward her.

I think Trudy knows - kind of suspected, but really knew at the point when she realized Claude had kept Edgar's return from her and set up a confrontation with Glen. Maybe she never discovered all the particulars, but she knew enough.

So much to discuss and contemplate with this book...I thought it was a real gem.

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deborah47

I just got an email from Barnes and Noble that Oprah's new book club choice is Edgar Sawtell. I just thought it was interesting.

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veronicae

I just started this yesterday, but having trouble concentrating due to some family things. I deduced there might be a Hamlet connection when I read some of the reviews and the jacket flap. (I skimmed past the long spoile posts..so don't know much more than that.) I like the writing style...the flow of the words and the descriptions are good.

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kathy9norcal

I totally agree with Kelly's assessment and feelings. I loved the book in the beginning, loved the dog stuff all through it, but it was horribly stressful reading even before Edgar ran off. Then, I kept telling myself it had to have a happy ending because so many people liked the book. It was a disastrous ending and left me feeling terrible. I read for entertainment and enjoyment and this book left me with very unsettled feelings. I guess I am a sucker for happy, 'pat' endings. Sometimes, I'll even settle for crumbs. This book offered no crumbs, sadly.

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woodnymph2_gw

Oh dear, I had wanted to read this, but I am a dog-lover. If it is too depressing, I just may have to skip this one. The most depressing books I ever read were: "Dog of Flanders" by Ouida and "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.

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kathy9norcal

I wouldn't say this book is too depressing to read. The dog parts are wonderful, in my opinion. And Henry Lamb is a character I will rememember for a long time.
As far as the incongruency of Edgar's mother taking up with Claude after only four months, I see it this way. She couldn't keep the place going by herself, and she really wanted to keep the breeding operation going in her husband's memory. Claude's true malignant nature wasn't really evident to her, and she saw him as a means to keep going. I did not feel she really loved him or was in a hurry to marry him. She was doing what she felt necessary in a difficult situation. Considering how truly evil he was, I find it odd there weren't other signs. No one who is that evil can hide it so well.
After having more time to think about the book, I am glad I read it. This author has great potential. But a truly wonderful read should not be destroyed by an awful ending. And were I to consider reading another of his books, I would look at the spoilers first. I do not trust him at all to make a satisfying ending, which is what I would prefer when I read for enjoyment.

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veronicae

I an giving up on this - if I want to read Hamlet I will read Hamlet. The characaters are just not real to me...too naive, almost stupid. It just makes me want to throw the book against the wall. I don't even care enough to read the end to see where it goes. Since it's an Oprah book, the dark turn it has taken doesn't surprise me. I think that will make an essentially brand new copy salable on half.com.

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itsmesuzq

I finished it a few nights ago and I thought the first third of the book of written so beautifully that I actually read outloud to myself. This author has a bright future. As the book progressed and I became entrenched in the story line I started wondering exactly where this book was going. I noticed that Stephen King loved this book, so when Edgar saw the ghost I thought maybe it was going in a "King" kind of direction. Then as the story went forward I just let it go the way it wanted to.

I was disappointed that it didn't explain who Claude a little more, and I would have liked Gar to live a little longer so he and Edgar could have had more of a relationship. I loved Henry and I'm glad the author spent several chapters on him. I didn't quite get all the time spent on the breeding of the dogs, or Forte for that matter. And of course I too hated the ending. I would have liked Almondine to live to see Edgar come through the pasture toward the house...and I didn't like that the fire held all the secrets with it as the barn burned.

I will read anything this author writes in the future. He is talented and his words are a joy to read!

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bookish_2008

I would have to agree with Kelly and the others who had mixed feelings on the book. I absolutely loved the novel up until the last part. Before I finished the book, I recommended it to EVERY SINGLE PERSON I talked to. SPOILERS -->> But my feelings changed when I read the last part. This just goes to show how an ending can prevent a novel from reaching its full potential. There were so many other ways it could have ended, I have no idea why the ending was so unfulfilling. I'm very disappointed only because this novel could have been so great. The author is a really good writer... I just don't understand the ending!

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jungseed

I too disliked the book. I enjoyed the first part it was a nice story. But by the end it seemed the author couldn't make up his mind which way to go - so just kill off the important people and end the book.
I will read the authors next book, if there is one, as the first part of the book shows writing promise.
I don't need a feel good ending, but this ending was confused and abrupt.

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wingsgate_yahoo_com

You were totally spot on with your review. Hated the ending. Seemed contrived and disconnected. The authors style presents a difficult read. Endless descriptions of feelings and moods and no clue as to 'what the heck is happening now' until you wade through more endless retrospective moaning and groaning.

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heathbar

LIVE WEBCAST WITH OPRAH AND "THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE" AUTHOR DAVID WROBLEWSKI

Hello  IÂm here on behalf of Oprah's Book Club and want to let you know you can register now for the world's largest interactive book club discussion exclusively on Oprah.com! The Story of Edgar Sawtelle author David Wroblewski and Oprah are sitting down for a one-time-only live webcast on Monday, January 26, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

To reserve your "seat" on Oprah.com today, please click here:
http://www.oprah.com/static/webcast/obc/webcast_register_obc.html

Do you have questions about "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle"? Do you wonder how Claude became so hateful, or how Trudy could have reacted the way she did? Do you want to know more about David and his road to becoming a celebrated author? Did the Sawtelles' love for their dogs especially touch your heart? Do you have your own amazing dog story? We want to hear your questions and thoughts about the book - anything and everything is up for discussion!

To submit questions, please click here:
https://www.oprah.com/plugform.jsp?plugId=977210

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runningmommom

I was very disappointed in the book also. I love dogs and a good story but this story left too many questions. You'd think with the number of pages the author wrote, he could have gave us an answer to why some very major incidents in the book happened. I would not read another book by this author. I do not know why Oprah liked it so much-the dogs??

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teresa8488

I also thought the ending was too bleak. Even The Road had more hope. (SPOILER) After finishing the book, I went back to re-read the description of the area where Henry lived to see if it could be where Essay was leading the other dogs at the end. Did anyone else think that might be a possibility? It would have made the ending easier to bear.

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melissa0846

I was really disappointed at the ending of this book. I get that he portrays Edgar as a human dog, this helps his story flourish into a novel where feelings really jump off the page without having to say things directly to the reader, but he needed to complete some sections of the story. Trudy should have found out the truth about Gar, Edgar and Claude, he painted her as this strong woman and she ends up this lifeless lump on the lawn while this fire is burning her child, hard work, and livelihood with Glen holding her down??? She could have bit and scratched, and kicked her way out. I am angry at the ending, I think it was very well written, but it lacked meat in the end. Where did the dogs go? To Henry's house? Did Essay remember the way? I don't know. I was bummed when I read the last page. I expected something greater than that for a finale.

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woodnymph2_gw

These posts make the novel sound unappetizing in the extreme. Yet it continues to be on the top ten list for fiction. I wonder why?

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clawsonmd_msn_com

I am a huge dog lover and so I had the same fervent hope as teresa above, that Essay was leading the other dogs to Henry's house for a new life. I do agree that the ending just seemed so implausible - why Glen, who was blind, crazed half out of his mind and thrashing around in pain, would have thought to hook his legs around Trudy to begin with, much less be able to hold her there and how LONNNNGGG this went on....just enough already! Sheesh!
I was very disappointed in the ending and I could only HOPE that the author is planning a sequel which will explain what happens to the Sawtelle dogs. Otherwise, the ending seems pointless to me and leaves one with a sense of hollow, unfinished business.

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glimmeringgirl

kren250, I hated the ending for all the reasons you did, and some others. I think a much better ending would have been for Edgar to live, for the truth to surface, and for Henry (a GOOD man), and Trudy to get together. They would have been great together, they each had what the other needed.

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cgothregistrar_yahoo_com

So glad to be able to commiserate with others! I too feel that, although the writing was very good, I can not recommend the book. I keep asking myself what the point was. The only uplifting or redeemable part was the union of Henry, Baboo & Tinder. The fact that Almondine dies before Edgar gets home, just about everyone dies, and the fact that Claude is never found out - especially to Trudy - Too Much!!!! I'm more that a little afraid to read another book without knowing the ending!
Bobbi

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cindyja

I finished reading this book late last night. A big mistake, because I woke up numerous times thinking about how tragically it ended. Mostly, it was beautifully written. At times, I had to stop and jot down phrases that I wanted to remember, they were so descriptive. At times, I wanted the story to continue and the descriptions to end. Overall, I liked the book and I know it will stay with me for a while. But, the ending is so disturbing and sad that I keep reading the last chapters thinking I've missed something. As a mother and dog-lover I am sad that so much was lost. I can't make sense of Trudy's feelings at the end. Was she even still alive? What will happen to all the dogs? I too hope, as others have written, that Essay and the others will find Henry. Did anyone find a meaning to Edgar's muteness? Am I looking for symbolism that is not there?

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woodnymph2_gw

I just finished this and am longing to have a discussion with someone about it. It blew me away -- I read late into the night, unable to put the book down. I've not been so riveted since McCarthy's "the Road", which was equally bleak.

I can certainly see the similarities in the plot of Shakespeare's "Hamlet". (minus any Ophelia, of course).

It was a beautifully written novel, but I felt I was being manipulated a bit by the ending. So many clashes, all at the last minute. I felt that Glen's holding Trudy down after he was blinded, for such a long time was rather contrived. The author had to get Trudy out of the way in order for what was about to happen in the barn to take place, of course.

Did anyone else wonder about the autopsy done on Gar, after his death? Would not have the poison have been detected in his system? I know they attributed his death to an aneurysm, but surely the poison could also have shown up? How realistic was this? Then, of course, when Edgar's body was ultimately found, would not an autopsy have been done on him, as well?

I also wondered about where Essay was leading all of those dogs at the end. I think it would have been too great a distance to take them to Henry's house. Besides, Henry would have been utterly overwhelmed by their numbers. And he would not have had their paperwork. He would have probably taken most to the local dog pound --- not a happy ending, either.

Like the poster above, I kept re-reading parts of the last chapters wondering if I had missed something. I hope others will join this thread and comment.

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woodnymph2_gw

More thoughts: I think Trudy was well on her way to figuring out she had been deceived by Claude. Some of the conversation at the end between Glen and Claude revealed this. I think Trudy was smart enough to figure out that Claude was up to no good and that she had been taken in out of her neediness. I was fascinated by the character of Claude --- he was like a snake in the grass, seemingly reasonable, yet evil incarnate. I would have liked to have known more about his childhood as younger brother of Gar. Clearly he had been envious of Gar for many years and this was his motive for the murder. But to go to the extreme of getting that poison in the beginning ---- shows the depths of his deep seated hatred of Gar.

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georgiabirdgirl_yahoo_com

Terrible ending! I was so disappointed that the author didn't give these characters a little more respect. He invested so much time in beautiful writing, character development and descriptions for much of the book and then seemed to get lazy and wrap it up with little or no thought. I can handle sad endings and don't need everything to be neat and tidy because sometimes that's just what is necessary. But this felt as though it was abruptly cut off. I agree with a previous poster that no amount of beautiful writing can make me trust an author again after he abandons his characters and readers so thoughtlessly.

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woodnymph2_gw

I'm surprised why no one else has commented on the autopsy done and how it should have detected the jab with the syringe and the poison.

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cheryld777

Yes, terrible ending but some more reasons why. I interpreted Trudy being held back so unexplainably, possibly because it was Gar trying to save her from dying too.(bit of a stretch)
Doctor Papineau running away from the door when he sees what Edgar is doing? That doesn't sound like his character, I think he would have stepped into the room to help.
Trudy choosing to keep Claude nearby when she honestly doesnÂt really want him around even after seeing how it upset her "beloved" son? I thought her character was supposed to be a bit stronger than someone who sleeps with a man for some help around the house. Hire a high school kid to help around the place for godÂs sake.
Edgar going into a burning barn, to what, save his fathers legacy? HE is is father's legacy, his dying nips that one. The dogs are his father's legacy, oops let them run away. He cares so little for his mother that seeing her being held by 2 hated men, he does nothing but go back for more paperwork even after he thought to himself, "I just need the first cabinet to have 5 generations of information".
I guess you just really have to go waaay out there to create enough conflict to justify killing everyone off.

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woodnymph2_gw

I thought it was in character for Edgar to keep going back to the barn to save his father's legacy. Also, I think since his sojourn in the woods he had become somewhat estranged from his mother.

I really did not mind that key players all died. What bothered me most about the ending was so much obvious manipulation was done by the author. OK that the creator pulls the strings, but we the readers should not be so aware of how much the strings are being pulled. They should be invisible.

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tylerc

Just finished up the book, and I too am a bit distraught from the ending. I wish Claude was brought to justice, and Trudy was aware of what happens to Edgar and the motivations for his actions throughout the story. One part of the ending that I did like is how Edgar seems to be more at peace. He no longer endures the agony of being consumed by revenge, and turns his attention to the dogs and there legacy during his final moments. His inner frustration made reading the book agonizing at times, so I liked how his final maturation as a character was to forget about Claude and embrace his love for Almondine.

Overall, a good book. I really liked the descriptive scenes with Henry Lamb. The ending leaves something to be desired

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woodnymph2_gw

A friend who just read the book pointed out to me the symbolism in the dogs' names. "Forte" is allied with the terms of "strength" as in the strength of Nature, being tough in the wild, self-sufficient, etc. Whereas "Essay" is allied with the meaning "to endeavor", "to attempt." I think when enough time elapses, I will want to read this again....

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froniga

Just finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. It wasn't just similar to Hamlet. it WAS Hamlet. Hamlet's uncle was Claudius, his mother was Gertrude (Trudy). Hamlet's father appeared to him as a ghost as did Gar to Edgar. Almondine was the tragic Ophelia. Dr. Papineau was Polonius and Glen was his son, (Laertes?) In the play, Hamlet has a troupe of actors act out the crime of Claudius's killing of Hamlet's father. In the book, it is the dogs who carry out the scene of bringing the syringe to Claude.
Edgar's strange behavior is similar to Hamlet's. And in the end of the play, the stage is littered with dead bodies, just as it is in the book.
I enjoyed looking for and finding all the similarities to Shakespeare's play. I also appreciated the writing itself. However, the wrestling scene with Glen and Trudy, I didn't understand. Like most of you, that made no sense to me. I was also left wondering whether Trudy was still alive or just in some kind of shock.

Henry was a great character but I did wonder what connection to the story the ghost of the farmer played in the plot.
It was a grim book. Now I need one a little more upbeat.

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woodnymph2_gw

froniga, thanks for your good analysis of this. I had not caught on that Almondine was Ophelia, but of course, you are correct. What role do you think Henry Lamb played vis a vis to the bard's play?

I think Trudy was not dead, just stunned, and in shock, at the end.

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froniga

Woodnymph, I never did figure out who Henry might be. Maybe the site mentioned in a previous post on the connections between Hamlet and E. S. has the answer.
The symbolism in the dogs' names I hadn't considered. Interesting.

But I've had the book on my mind off and on all day and have decided, as did veronicae, lesser writers should leave Shakespeare alone. "If I want to read Hamlet, I'll read Hamlet," veronica said. I agree. I have concluded that I won't be enthusiastically recommending it to others.

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aputz

I just finished this book about 10 minutes ago. I was so angry (surprisingly) at the ending, I had to google it and find out what the heck others thought. Was I missing something?
I agree with others-the book was wonderfully written. Even the writing of the last section had me up late, and turning the pages faster than I could keep my eyes open. But what happens in the end is so frustrating. I know I'm supposed to just know that Edgar died and Claude killed his father. But lay it out a bit more! Trudy had no idea. There seems to be so many pieces just 'left'. No loose ends tied up at all.
I also thought Henry was a great character. A funny guy and great to get to know.
What was the point of Forte? I kept waiting for a connection between this wild dog and the ones they trained. Or maybe Forte would have come to live with them or something.
And why can't Edgar speak? I was also waiting for some (probably cheesy) explanation for this as well. I guess you knew Edgar died when he said "I love you" to who I'm assuming was his father.

The relationship between Almondine and Edgar was the best part of the book.

Throughout the book, you gather that Edgar can see ghosts ie. the old man in Henry's shed. So how are we supposed to know at the end when he sees Almondine and Gar that it's because he's died and not because he is just seeing ghosts?

This book has left me with a lot of questions, or just and overall feeling of "Really? That's it??" I feel it flowed well, but now in the end there are so many parts that just don't connect. I'm ok with a book that is tragic as life is never perfect and tragedy is real, but the ending of this book really left me feeling frustrated.

I enjoy seeing others posts. Hamlet connection is extremely interesting. I'll take the word for it, as I don't recall any of that story. And I agree-leave Hamlet to what it is... This rendition of Hamlet reminds me of lip syncing.

Thank you everyone for sharing your feelings.

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laurenalmawhat_yahoo_com

My reason for coming here was the same as aputz. At first I was furious about the ending and I wanted to see what others thought. But it has been days since I read it and it is still on my mind. Isn't that the best sign of a well-written book?

Maybe his point is to leave us with more questions than answers. As frustrating as the ending is, the prose is beautiful and if the author writes another novel, I will certainly read it.

I wasn't aware of the Hamlet connections and that has shed some new light on the themes. I haven't read Hamlet in so long, the parallels weren't instantly apparent.

It has been a while since I have finished a novel and had it leaving me with this much thought. I recommend Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen if you are looking for another complex novel. And yes, the ending is happy.

Thank you all for your thoughts.

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socks

I agree with most here--the ending was so disappointing. However--did we all want a HAPPY ending? Life doesn't always offer that, but it would have been more satisfying, right? The end just seemed to drag on and on, cop and mom wrestling on the ground, smoke, etc. There were loose ends I would have liked to have wrapped up.

The author writes beautifully, and I really did like the book a lot--the dogs, training, Henry, descriptions of the countryside. I was going to pass it along to my sister, but I am not sure now because of the ending.

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funtimes123_mail_com

Any time I recommended the book to anyone i suggested they don't read the last 50 or so pages and make up the ending. What really ruined it for me is that my English teacher unwittingly revealed how Almondine died before i got there in the book. Sad day for me.

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garyslisam_aol_com

Just finished the book and hated the ended for ALL the reasons mentioned by others. Grim, depressing book, and I can tell it is this authors first book. I will read his next book though because he has potential.

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dturgeon_nycap_rr_com

Like so many other people who have read this book, I too have mixed feelings about it. It may have taken the author 10 years to write it but it took me 2 years to get through it. Just not a page-turner for me. I'm a dog lover and appreciated some of the specifics that may be part of dog breeding/training and dog sensibilities, but the main characters left little substance to chew on. I thought the book was too wordy, too verbose and could have been told more succinctly. It dragged on too long for too long with parts that seemed insignificant to the rest of the story. Very disappointed with the ending...didn't think it was an ending at all...just dropped off the cliff at some point still trying to figure it out. Would probably not recommend to anyone else.

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jiga55

I agree with the beginning comment. Claude's motivation is never fleshed out. When he first returns, there is an allusion that he's been inside... was he in prison? I have to think about the Hamlet connection, and Edgar was dog-like, not being able to speak. Where was Trudy's strength... she couldn't get out of the blinded Glen writhing in pain? Claude had it all set up.... no explanation of why, but he got the poison in the beginning of the book.... I got it on Book Bub for 1.99... watch for it again to download to Kindle version. I would not pay more for it...not something I'd like to keep.


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vee_new

I'm impressed that someone has been able to find such an old thread, especially as I thought that everything from the previous Garden Web site had gone down the tube/up in smoke/flushed away/blown to smithereens . . .

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woodnymph2_gw

The author was supposed to have written a sequel. Does anyone know if he ever did?

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catherineagogo

I agree wholeheartedly with most of the views expressed. I’m left dissapointed. It’s like watching ‘’Lost’ all over again. ...you invest so much time only to find out its a dream. As soon as I realised he was going to kill off Almondine I knew I’d struggled through the book for no reason - and then it got worse. All of the great bits were off shoots to the main storyline like the chapters on Henry & Almondine. I didn’t really feel the connection between Gar and Edgar. It felt like so much of what I wanted to understand wasn’t written.

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frances_md

I sure never expected to see this thread again but after almost 12 years I still remember the intense sadness I felt when Almondine died without knowing Edgar was coming to see her. I work with donated books at our local library and whenever I see this book I want to throw it away, no matter how well written it is. (I don't throw them away.)

This is one of two books I read at about the same time that really made lasting impressions on me. The other is The Terror by Dan Simmons. It had a more positive effect in that I now love reading about polar explorations.


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