While The Lost Prince (August 2012) by Seldon Edwards is an interesting novel with an intriguing plot, it is, in many respects, implausible. Eleanor “Weezie” Burden, a scion of Boston society at the turn of the last century, uses a small journal—the focal point of Edwards’ first novel—to secretly amass a large fortune, foster large corporations, influence the outcome of historical events, and rescue her son’s future teacher from the ravages of war. She accomplishes all of this with her aide, Will Honeycutt, and through her intimate relationships with Carl Jung, William James, Sigmund Freud, and Gustav and Alma Mahler. The concept that a woman, even one as brilliantly talented and steadfast as Eleanor, would be close to and influence these prominent personages and also be the prime mover of world events during an era of patriarchal dominance is, to me, a bit far-fetched.
Our clearly defined heroine is a larger-than-life, over-the-top pip of a stiff, strong-willed protagonist, with a large, smugly self-assured ego, and calculating self-will. In total control of her own life, she controls others, through clipped and often forced dialogue, to fulfill her “role and ambitions” and help her search for Arnauld Esterhazy—the lost prince. She is almost out of touch and out of place in the life and times depicted in this 448-page odyssey that rambles through the tremulous era of World War I.
But, don’t get me wrong. I really did enjoy reading this book. Edwards is a fluid, straightforward writer who instantly captivates the reader with juicy descriptions, historical facts, and fictionalized real-life figures who form the background of Eleanor’s many adventures throughout her life…and times. This is not only a historical novel of some literary merit, but also a somewhat scholarly venture into the genre of time travel. Since I did not read the first novel of this saga, I did not expect this surprising subplot twist. While it added more explanatory intrigue, it also came with a few technical glitches and questions which went annoyingly unanswered. For example, prior to marriage, Eleanor, in Vienna during the 1890s, falls in love with a young man from 1988 who gives her the prophetic journal. The incestuous inference that he is a future relative was jarring. Then there is the questionable significance of Eleanor’s true relationship with the prince—a romantic aspect that could have been more meaningful had he been more demonstrative and she less manipulative.
All in all, however, The Lost Prince was a fairly engrossing, albeit slow, read. It took me nearly two weeks of steady pacing to absorb the imaginative plot line, character analyses, and historical references. I often had to stop to research Mahler’s music, relearn the principles of Jungian psychology, and recall some of William James’ work. I found this necessary to thoroughly understand and benefit from the subtle nuances of this comparatively creative and ingeniously written novel.
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