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The Little Book

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  3,079 ratings  ·  820 reviews
Thirty years in the writing, Selden Edwards' dazzling first novel is an irresistible triumph of the imagination. Wheeler Burden-banking heir, philosopher, student of history, legend's son, rock idol, writer, lover, recluse, half-Jew, and Harvard baseball hero-one day finds himself wandering not in his hometown of San Francisco in 1988 but in a city and time he knows myster ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Plume Books (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ron Charles
Margaret
I really wanted to give this book three stars but I just can't. To me it
seemed like a case of a wonderful idea, sort of Jack Finney Meets John
Irving, coming unfortunately to someone who just doesn't have the skill or
the ease to realize it effectively. The writing itself is perfectly sound
and literate, but for me the author didn't have the command to carry off his
ridiculously complicated structure - featuring multiple narrative lines,
multiple time periods, and constantly changing angles of view,
...more
Lisa
Oct 02, 2008 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who liked The Time Traveler's Wife
First of all, BEWARE of reviews that give away too much of this plot (that's you, amazon!) because it will ruin your reading to know too many of the intricate details of this novel. I'm intentionally vague below because key plot elements were given away in some reviews I read.

The time-travel aspect makes you think it's sci-fi, but it's really more of historical fiction in the exhaustive detailing of 1867 Vienna. It also touches on psychology, romance, and philosophy (those who love the time-trav
...more
Susan I
I wanted so much to like it, to get all caught up in it. I kept reading cause I thought there would come a resolution of voices, historical characters intermingled with fictional ones, some reason to have gotten to the end. But when the end came I was so glad to put the book down. I wanted to explore time travel, especially to fin de siecle Vienna, a glorious, vibrant time and place. But I just kept getting bogged down. Stray, competing lines of thought crossed and recrossed constantly. The wri ...more
Kerry
Nov 30, 2008 Kerry rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who liked the time traveler's wife
Do you like stories about love, music, and time travel? Do you enjoy a dash of celebrity and a sprinkling of intertwining history? Are you inspired by creative teachers and talented storytellers? If the answer is yes, you should read this book!

I began this book somewhat apprehensively (not always sure about the time travel aspect), but soon embraced it wholeheartedly. It was a lovely story to be swept away with and I really liked the settings of Boston and Vienna. As I proceeded through the boo
...more
Darrin
Nov 11, 2008 Darrin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of time-travel
Recommended to Darrin by: Lisa
Time-travel tales, as intricate as they are, require a special touch, a unique understanding of cause and effect. As such they are incredibly easy to write poorly and at the same time quite difficult to write well.

There is a long tradition to the cyclical nature of these tales, beginning, arguably with Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, The Flying Trunk and continued a century later with Richard Matheson's Somewhere in Time in the 1970s and most recently with Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Tra
...more
Elaine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carin
Jun 15, 2008 Carin rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Time and Again
This ambitious novel felt to me very much like Time and Again. It had a few moments of repetition, a dash of pretention, and occasional predictability, but overall was an enchanting and fun escape from everyday life. The story of Wheeler, former talented pitcher, former famous musician, and former bestselling author, who has suddenly appeared in the Austria of the 1890s. There he runs into some people from his own personal history and discovers a vast amount of true history of his family and dur ...more
Kerrie
Couldn't finish this one. I can't put my finger on it, but the writing is strangely repetitive and it's pissing me off.

This story is written from a woman's point of view (I think?) recounting the main character's adventure (who's a guy) and yet the narrator of the audio version is a dude. I'm all confused. o__O

Since I loved From Time to Time, the whole going-back-in-time story idea hooked me, but the previously mentioned weird redundant writing is killing it for me.
Jackie
Jul 14, 2008 Jackie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jackie by: Heather Duncan
The Library of Congress cataloging for this book is: 1. Rock musician--fiction. 2. Time travel--fiction. 3.Vienna(Austria)--fiction. 4. Austria--History--1867-1918--Fiction. And it is definitely all of those things. But it's SOOOOOOOOO much more. This book tells a story that keeps looping back upon itself and back upon itself and back upon itself. It introduces us to the likes of Freud and Samuel Clemens, Hitler and the Empress of Vienna. It's a history lesson and a brilliant work of science fic ...more
Carey
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 ta
...more
Jennifer
For all the hype, I expected so much more from this book. It's about time travel, psychoanalysis, and there's a goopy, unrealistic, annoying love story thrown in. None one of these aspects is done well.
The time travel bit isn't detailed enough to be believable and the characters who do travel back to Vienna in 1897 aren't believable either since they don't struggle or ask enough "why" questions of themselves.
The psychoanalysis is tedious, mostly because it is tied up in the love story. The love
...more
Brent
Sep 23, 2009 Brent rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy historical fiction.
Recommended to Brent by: Lyndi Drews
Shelves: fiction, history
After polishing off The Time Traveler's Wife, I had The Little Book recommended to me since it was also a story of relationships and time travel.

This time, though, our hero, Wheeler Burden, gets to stay in one place: turn-of-the-century Vienna. I'll leave you to discover the circumstances behind his arrival, but what I can tell you is he gets to meet, along with Sigmund Freud and Mark Twain, a father he never knew and a grandfather he wished he never met. The characters are well-constructed, and
...more
Judith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tracy
So far this isn't looking promising. I'm only on page 16, but have had no problem putting it down multiple times already. There's a lot of "if he had only known then what he knew later" talk in it. That's already becoming irritating.

I'll give the book until page 50. If it doesn't grab me by then, it's outta here.

ETA: At page 54, I'm done. I don't care about anyone in the book. I was beat over the head with the "if he had only known" SEVEN times in the first 22 pages. I can read, therefore, I ge
...more
Jen
This book is the equivalent of that new kid that came to your high school half way through the semester...really cool, really mysterious...and once you get to know him REALLY CREEPY. The worst part is the kid never thought he was creepy, he always thought he was really really cool. This book thinks it is all that and a bag of chips. When really, it's just the creepy guy on the corner wearing a nice jacket.

Basic premise...guy is weird, ends up going back in time, meeting his dad that died when he
...more
Sally
My family started listening to this audio book on our car ride to and from Bear Valley in late December. We only got to the 4th disc, but it was enough to hook me. (My partner went out and bought a copy of the book, to continue the story.)

Very entertaining -- I've continued with the audio book for my work commute. I heard the author on a panel at the Book Group Expo in San Jose, in October, which got me interested in the book. He worked on this book for 30 years, writing and revising until it w
...more
Marvin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vicki
The last male of the Bostonian Burdens, Frank Standish Burden III finds himself walking the broad highway surrounding the culturally rich and beautiful city of Vienna in 1897. The perplexing dilemma he faces is that his last memory is of San Francisco in 1988. He vaguely remembers a traumatic event associated with San Francisco, but realizes he must take steps quickly to fit in and find his way in Vienna, a city he knows much about, but has never visited.

His connection to this time and place com
...more
Keith
Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living” but in this age of digital narcissism, have we made our lives more worthwhile or have we missed the point entirely? What if the reader of family history could enter a loop of connectedness where it’s possible to meet and ask questions of antecedents? Stan “Wheeler” Burden finds himself in this challenging conundrum “perplexed by the confusions of living his life backward”. Does he introduce himself into the events, possibly altering th ...more
Paul
Apr 23, 2011 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: Hugo Bookstores (John)
“The Little Book”, though not an easy read, is a rewarding one. The action takes place in turn-of-the-century Vienna. The protagonist, Wheeler Burden has been transported from the U.S. in the 1980’s to Vienna as he lay dying. (The author has called this movement “time dislocation”.) It is here that Wheeler meets his father, whom he had never really known, who finds himself in the same location after dying during World War II. And . . . it happens that this is the place and time when Wheeler’s gr ...more
Yvonne
Time travel fiction is not an easy undertaking and the time the author took, 30 year to be exact, can be seen in this well written piece of fiction that can have you believe in the plausibility of time travel and the thin line one must tread or bear the consequences of the change that can ensue. The characters created are three dimensional to the depths of the secrets that are revealed through out the intertwining story of Wheeler Burden and his legendary father Dilly Burden. Wheeler finds himse ...more
Emily
My mouse just hovered over the stars above this review box for about a minute, going back and forth between "I liked it" and "I really liked it." Three or four stars? Did I like it or really like it? I settled on liking it.
It's a really engaging read. The main character, Wheeler Burden, is a sort of mythical American man, good at everything every boy wants to be good at. He is son to a man very much like him. That the author manages to make these uber-men seem believable is a great testament to
...more
George
COMPLETELY CAPTIVATING.

"Myths are the dreams of cultures."

Five stars are simply too few to adequately rate Selden Edwards' magnificent and magical historical fantasy, THE LITTLE BOOK. Every aspect of this novel—times, places, storylines, narration, and, most especially, adorable characters (and they ALL were)—was fetchingly engaging and thoroughly charming.

Jeff Woodman’s narration was far and away the most excellent audiobook narration I've heard and enjoyed to date.

Recommendation: Historical fi
...more
Debbie
I believe our impressions of books are caught by the time and/or order in which we read them. I happen to be a big fan of The Time Traveler's Wife, which in my opinion, nailed the time travel thing with characters I cared about.

It feels like The Little Book flits over way to many subjects. I would have found it more compelling if the story had been more focused on either the Burden family OR the historical aspects. It seems as though the story just 'skims'...the characters, the historical compo
...more
Trena
Odd little book with a quirky story. The characters were likeable and interesting. Found it hard to put it down
Sarah
Sep 21, 2008 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steve Ely because he likes time travel books, I think.
I think I would maybe give this 4.5 if I could. It was a strangely attractive book. Despite the fact that you know it's narrated by the main character's mother, it feels almost detached and distant. There are multiple threads that follow different characters during different ears, which could have been disastrous. It works, though, rounding out the whole picture of nearly a century of non-linear living. Like any time travel story, it kind of put my brain in a jumble trying to think out the reper ...more
Dorothy
Fabulous !! I loved it. One of the best. books I've ever read!
Stacey
This "little book" was amazingly clever! The story opens with Wheeler Burden awakening in Vienna Austria with no idea how he got there from San Francisco California. As he walks around the city and he becomes more aware of his surroundings, he starts to notice the way people are dressed, the automobiles and picks up a newspaper from a corner stand to see that the year is 1897 instead of 1988. There begins a story with so many twists and turns that it is truly a fun read! Would have rated it a 4. ...more
Jule
(This is the second, less awesome version of this text, because my laptop decided to delete the first version by shutting down my browser…)

"The Little Book" was a lucky find from the library. The spine looked really cool, the blurb sounded interesting, so I took it home. And on my next train ride, I could almost not put it down.

The novel is about time travel and although those plots are usually a little hard to summarize, I will try my best: the protagonist, Wheeler, finds himself transported f
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine editions of "The Little Book" 2 11 Aug 16, 2013 11:49PM  
The Little Book by Selden Edwards -- SPOILERS 2 49 Oct 06, 2008 09:58PM  
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Selden Edwards began writing The Little Book as a young English teacher in 1974, and continued to layer and refine the manuscript until its completion in 2007. It is his first novel. He spent his career as headmaster at several independent schools across the country, and for over forty years has been secretary of his Princeton class, where he also played basketball. He lives in Santa Barbara, Cali ...more
More about Selden Edwards...
The Lost Prince L'incroyable histoire de Wheeler Burden

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