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.