Imagine for a moment being taken back in time to 1897 and finding yourself in Vienna Austria. You don’t know why you are there, or how you got there, but you know the city intimately. You discover that many of the people you meet are those that will influence you directly, and those that will change the course of human history. Imagine as a time traveller meeting a young doctor named Sigmund Freud, or a young composer named Gustav Mahler. Imagine coming face to face with a nine year old victim of child abuse named Adolf Hitler. You have landed in the city during its intellectual and cultural height, but you also encounter the early days of state endorsed anti-semitism. You know where all of this is leading, but as you interact with people you know you must not meddle. You participate in political debate with your new friends in the Viennese coffeehouses, but you must be careful not to reveal too much.
In Selden Edwards’ debut novel The Little Book, that is the situation the hero finds himself in. Despite a few oddities in the plotline, this is a finely crafted novel. It is meticulously researched, and gives the reader an insight into a city at its height, just before the calamitous events of the 20th century.
The author spent 30 years writing this book, and I hope he doesn’t wait that long to write the next one.