Dilly Burden was a legend and a hero. He excelled at his Boston boys’ school and at Harvard, was a star baseball player and gave his life in World War II when he was tortured and killed by the Gestapo in France. His only son, Wheeler, has no memory of his Dad but has spent his life living up to the legend.
Where Dilly was an icon, Wheeler is more eccentric. He followed in his father’s footsteps to the Boston boys’ school and despite guidance from a much beloved teacher, the Haze, (who had also taught his father), he was an average student. He did show talent in baseball but his real love was music. He found great success in his life and was quite a music star in the late 1980s but never stuck to anything, or anyone, for any great length of time. He was always looking for something he couldn’t put his finger on.
But that’s not where the story begins…
Suddenly one day Wheeler is walking along and begins to realize that he is somewhere he does not recognize. He soon discovers that he is in 1897 Vienna, in his modern clothes and with all of his memories intact. He doesn’t know how he got there or how long this visit will last. But as one day stretches to two, he realizes that he is going to need some help. Thanks to the Haze, Wheeler speaks German well and knows a bit about this part of European history. After much consideration he approaches Sigmund Freud, a little known figure at the time, for help. Their discussions and the journal Wheeler starts to keep help him to begin to understand this amazing thing that has happened to him.
During his stay in Vienna, Wheeler discovers his past in a way that is entirely surprising and leaves you hoping that Selden Edwards has somehow really figured out the way the universe works.
There are many well developed characters that appear in the story. The reader gets to know them all and will realize that this book isn’t just about Wheeler or even most importantly about Wheeler but about his loved ones and the patterns that life weaves.
This is an absolutely wonderful book. It has layers of meaning and an interconnectedness that make it a breath-taking read. It’s a history lesson and a love story, a mystery and a psychology lesson. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The Little Book will be published in August, 2008 by Dutton.