Edwards’s sprawling second novel, it turns out, is no less a puzzle than his bestselling The Little Book, and follows on its heels in time, as Weezie Putnam returns from fin-de-siècle Vienna with a new name, Eleanor Burden, and a leather-bound journal that reveals “forthcoming events well into the twentieth century,” handwritten instructions that she believes will determine her destiny. This mysterious “Vienna journal” outlines a series of actions for Eleanor to take, throughout her life, that will make her not only wealthy but a crucial silent playmaker in world history, influencing the likes of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and William James, all while maintaining the facade of a Boston socialite and devoted wife. One of her most significant contributions involves financially backing a conference to bring Freud to the U.S. with the help of her godfather, William James. But Eleanor’s personal triumph is securing a teaching position in Boston for a young Austrian named Arnauld Esterhazy, who becomes a mentor to her young son. But when Arnauld, “swept up in the fervor” of WWI, disappears from her life (breaking with the journal’s predictions), Eleanor’s unwavering faith in the journal is shaken, and she heads to war-ravaged Europe just days after the armistice in a desperate search for Arnauld among the makeshift hospitals that house so many men destroyed by the war. Once again, Edwards has a good time connecting historical events and philosophical ideas, and also connecting this book to his first, though many of those threads remain loose until late in the narrative, and parts of the book feel verbose. But Edwards’s bird’s-eye view of the details of this momentous age makes this companion piece as much fun as his debut. (Aug. 16)
"Brilliant. -Selden Edwards is a writer of great intellect and wit, and his books are a joy to read. I love The Lost Prince. The Little Book made such an impression on me;-The Lost Prince is even better."
Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
"I loved Selden Edwards's first novel The Little Book and told everyone I knew about it.- I just read his second novel The Lost Prince and think that Mr. Edwards has written his finest work so far. Once again, Selden Edwards demonstrates his mastery in blending together philosophy and art with the help of wonderful characters you fall in love with. The Lost Prince is a terrific second novel."
"Selden Edwards's The Little Book is a wonderful novel, and I think it has a chance to become a famous one. I've never read a novel like it. And I felt like my life was changing forever as I savored its many delights and mysteries."
Pat Conroy on The Little Book
"Back to the Future for the intellectual set."
Entertainment Weekly on The Little Book
"A soaring thing of joy whose only purpose-and I mean this as a compliment-is to delight and entertain."
Maureen Corrigan, NPR on The Little Book
"[Edwards has] created a complete world, one that's a pleasure to enter."
Newsday on The Little Book
"There's nothing small about Selden Edwards's debut novel,The Little Booknot its scale, ambitions, or backstory."
USA Today on The Little Book
"A powerful, intense and fascinating read." -Kirkus (starred review)
"Intelligent and romantic..."
"A powerful, intense and fascinating read."
Marred by stilted language, clichés, run-on sentences, repetition, cardboard characters, and awkward dialog, this novel concerns a Mary Sue (Eleanor) who plays a major role in historical events. We know Eleanor is perfect in every way because we are told she is. There is nothing in the novel to demonstrate this, but all the men love her and she is so very clever. After all, thanks to the journal she got in Edwards's first novel, The Little Book, of which the current novel is the sequel or prequel depending on your view of time travel, we know that she and her family are the impetus for every major event of the 20th century. The novel is supposed to be about how Eleanor deals with her knowledge of the future and her adventures as a result. But it doesn't work. We are told everything and the result is tiresome. Even on the few occasions Edwards does show instead of tell he immediately undercuts it by telling us what he has just shown. And telling us once is never enough. VERDICT Many readers liked The Little Book. The assumption is they will read this one despite the poor writing and shallow characters; for everyone else, it's not recommended.—Pamela Mann. St. Mary's Coll. of Maryland, St. Mary's City
Hints of time travel haunt this historical and philosophical novel set in early-20th-century Boston and Europe. In 1898, Weezie Putnam returns to the States from a memorable trip to Vienna with three things: a manuscript, a ring and a journal. The manuscript lauds the genius of Mahler, and she publishes it pseudonymously under the name "Jonathan Trumpp." The ring she sells for $5,000, an enormous sum, to provide seed money for future investments. And the journal--the most precious artifact of all--was written in the future and thus provides her with a window into major 20th-century events. One might also add that she returns with a new name, Eleanor, and thus with a new persona. Because of the information provided in the journal, she knows her destiny and starts ensuring it comes about. As predicted, Eleanor marries a prominent banker, Frank Burden and begins a series of investments that initially seem questionable, though her foreknowledge assures her of their inevitable exorbitant worth. She hires a man named T. Williams Honeycutt, because the journal has informed her that he will be important in the success of her business life, but he has a cousin with the same name, so it's problematic whether she's hired the right one. She takes her largest risk with a young Viennese intellectual named Arnauld Esterhazy, who becomes the father of her son and who seems to have died at the battle of Caporetto in 1917, but the journal has predicted a long life for him, one intricately interwoven with Eleanor's. She's so convinced of the journal's truth that she makes a dangerous trek to postwar Europe to find him, and she succeeds. He's shellshocked, and she takes him to Jung's clinic in Zurich to recover. Throughout the novel, Edwards skillfully intertwines Eleanor's predestined fate with her relationships to Freud, Jung, J. P. Morgan, William James and other historical figures. A powerful, intense and fascinating read.