The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

The Other Einstein is an incredibly well-written book that any woman, even of today, can relate to in some way. Many readers will be sad and angry after reading, and no one who has read this book will ever be able to imagine Albert Einstein the same way ever again.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

the-other-einsteinTitleThe Other Einstein
AuthorMarie Benedict
Series: stand alone
Publish Date: October 18, 2016, Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical, Biographical Fiction
Source: From publisher at BEA 16

Publisher’s DescriptionIn the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein’s enormous shadow. This is the story of Einstein’s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.

Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. And then fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, and the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

ivana 100Invested Ivana says…

I have always been a lover of historical fiction, typically that told from a female point of view. I think this may because a feminine POV typically includes more than timelines and heroic deeds. Often it also includes social and personal context on historical events. Or maybe that’s the “fiction” aspect of historical fiction.  In any case, seeing history from a very personal point of view is appealing to me.

The Other Einstein certainly delivers this personal aspect to history. So much so that, several days after reading the book (in nearly one sitting), I still feel sad and angry, as if I’m mourning.  I guess I am; I’m mourning the school-textbook and pop-culture image of Albert Einstein as a brilliant man and something of the “crazy uncle” of modern science.

Mileva and Albert Einstein

Mileva and Albert Einstein

The Other Einstein tells the story of Mileva Maric, a brilliant woman whose father steers her toward the scholarly life, rather than the domestic one, due to her intelligence and a physical handicap—a twisted hip resulting in a limp. Mileva is one of only a handful of women allowed to matriculate in the universities at the end of the 19th century. She endures prejudice and bullying for her daring, but she perseveres, knowing that science is her passion and believing it is the only option she really has.

Until she meets Albert Einstein, who offers her a life of both science and love, of the kind of belonging and acceptance that solitary Mileva has never had.  What comes next is a story in much the same vein as the 2014 film, Big Eyes—a charismatic and narcissistic Albert taking credit for Mileva’s work and slowly stealing her sense of worth until she is a hollow shell of herself, then finally angry enough to make a change.

I love the exchange Mileva has with Marie Curie in the book. In it, Madame Curie, in a very subtle and 19th century way, tries to encourage Mileva to stand up for herself, to take credit for her work, and to be the breakthrough female scientist she was born to be. Madame Curie is a fantastic opposite to Mileva and shows the reader what Mileva’s path could have been without Albert.

Mileva and her children

Mileva and her children

I also adore how the author, or perhaps Mileva herself, has framed her life in terms of Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion. What a perfect metaphor for Mileva’s life before, with, and after Albert.

There is so much I could say about this book, so much to talk about. I’m much too independent of a reader for book clubs, but The Other Einstein makes even me want to join up and talk about all the wonderful themes and ideas it contains—feminism now and in history, independence vs. belonging, the strong need for acceptance, sacrifice, family, domestic relations, intellectual capital, psychological manipulations, living with narcissists, mental health, race and gender relations, the wonder of science, and so much more. But, I think this review is too long already. 🙂

badge5v4This book seems to me to be one of high cultural value in today’s world.  We need to hear more stories of women’s achievements, particularly in math and science. We need to know how history treated women, both good and bad. We need to hear more of the truth behind history, and not just what the textbooks can fit into a fifty-minute lesson. We need to know, even if it means we have to mourn the loss of our old beliefs.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

About Invested Ivana

I'm currently a freelance line editor, a book blogger at One Book Two, and lifetime reader. I like geeky things. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Red Adept Editing or any of my clients, the other reviewers on this site, or this site as a whole.

Posted on October 26, 2016, in Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Like you, I’m sad to hear that the impression we’ve had of Einstein may not be true. I’m fascinated by the concept of this book, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s incredibly well-done and I highly recommend it. But, yeah, it will impact your view of Einstein. I keep wanting to say, “Well, it’s fiction, so it may not have been that bad.” But it seems like well-researched fiction, and I haven’t yet found anything from the author that says how much of Albert is researched via made up. 😦


  2. Nervous Nell Justice

    Enlightening. I hate to believe a husband would do that to a wife, but I guess with history treating women like property more than human beings, I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m sad to learn that this may be true.

    Liked by 1 person

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