[Review] The Little Book by Selden Edwards

Title: The Little Book: A Novel
Author: Selden Edwards
Page: 486 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: Time Travel, Vienna (Austria), Austria - History - 1867 - 1918
First Published: 2008

An irresistible triumph of the imagination more than thirty years in the making, The Little Book is a breathtaking love story that spans generations, ranging from fin de siècle Vienna through the pivotal moments of the twentieth century.
- Synopsis from Goodreads

The Little Book is a story about Frank “Wheeler” Standish Burden III who in present time San Francisco of the year 1988 suddenly finds himself mysteriously transported to 1897 Vienna. Wheeler comes from a long-standing accomplished (and Harvard-educated) lineage dating back from his grandfather, Frank Burden who was an athlete competing in the first modern Olympic. His father Frank Burden Jr. whom Wheeler never really knew was also an athlete and a war-hero who perished during the WWII. Even Wheeler himself, staying true to his namesake, is a banking heir, famous American rock idol and Harvard baseball hero.

What’s a person from the 1980s with a long hair, Wild Bill Hickok moustache and a peculiar way of dressing got to do in late 19th century Vienna? Change his appearance, that’s what. With no money Wheeler has to resort to stealing clothes and on his first day in 1897 Vienna, he acquires  a mortal enemy.

While in Vienna Wheeler encounters enigmatic characters (and real historical figures) like Mark Twain, Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud and the none other than the 8-year-old Adolf Hitler. And not long after he meets his father and falls in love with a stunning and young American woman. Will Wheeler’s intervention change the course of history?

I loved this story—quite confusing for me at the beginning but as I came to grips with the plot, it delighted and captivated me until the end. I am someone who tries to stay away from fiction that defies logic (as in the paranormal, fantasy, etc.) but somehow reading about time travel seemed okay. What made it acceptable to me was the author did not attempt to explain how Wheeler got transported back to time, instead refer to it as the “mysterious arrival”.

The Little Book was a delightful read about the turn of century Vienna and how I wish to see the story turned into a movie. It could, itself be a classic =)


I went to Vienna a few years back, it's a beautiful city. I hope to visit again one day :)
Several years ago a friend told me how much they liked this book, and then I totally forgot about it until your review. Thanks so much - well done.
Chein said…
Simply explaining the time travel bit as a "mysterious arrival", without any proper explanation (ie field equations, warping of space-time continuum, etc) is too convenient, and totally unacceptable to me :)

That being said, meeting 8 year old Hitler sounds really intriguing.