Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: The Other Einstein

Summary: In 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. It 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. -- Sourcebooks

I have been on the lookout for a good historical fiction book for some time. While I don't love the king/queen books, I do enjoy "learning" through fiction. When I first heard about THE OTHER EINSTEIN by Marie Benedict, I thought this book really had potential. This novel gives insight into Albert Einstein's first wife, and I found it both interesting and heartbreaking.

THE OTHER EINSTEIN tells the story of Mitza Maric, a young woman who was ahead of her time in so many ways. Despite having a severe limp, Mitza and her father were determined for her to receive a quality education -- not an opportunity most women has in the late 1800s. Mitza moves to Zurich to attend a prestigious university and study physics, and she's the only woman in any of her classes. She is met with mixed behavior from the instructors and the male students, but one student in particular, a Mr. Albert Einstein, is drawn to her. He turns Mitza's life upside down, and everything she thought she ever wanted is called into question.

Albert convinces Mitza to follow her heart, and it proves to be her downfall. They both put Albert's career first (he is the man after all); however, Mitza soon learns that her difficult choices have led to her unhappiness. Albert's immaturity, selfishness, and even lies hurt Mitza beyond belief, and she's forced to decide whether she can continue to make these sacrifices for a man who doesn't seem to give anything back.

As I had hoped, I really enjoyed THE OTHER EINSTEIN. It was an interesting story about a brilliant woman who thought she could have it all. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way for her. I definitely appreciated how the author brought Mitza to life and even how she presented Albert Einstein as an extremely complicated (and difficult) man. And while I'm not a big fan of romances, I enjoyed how the author portrayed their relationship and the challenges they faced.

I was definitely impressed with how well the author merged fact with fiction in this novel. It was apparent that she conducted a great deal of research, and I loved that the subject matter was one that I knew nothing about. I also loved how she came up with the idea to write about Mitza. Her son was reading "Who Was Albert Einstein?" and it mentioned that Einstein had a wife who was also a physicist. That was just enough to trigger her curiosity... and the writing of THE OTHER EINSTEIN.

THE OTHER EINSTEIN would make a terrific book club selection. The book is not only interesting but really explores a woman who made sacrifices for love. Needless to say, there are many relevant themes that will resonate with readers including a woman who felt the conflict between a career and a family. I was thrilled that they publisher included a discussion guide in the back of the hardcover version of the novel (not something you see everyday!) Some of the topics you might want to further explore include gender, betrayal, a quest for understanding, love, grief, guilt, independence, and second chances.

Overall, I enjoyed THE OTHER EINSTEIN a great deal. Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction and books with strong female characters.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

2 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I know how much you were looking forward to this and am glad it lived up to your expectaions.

Laura Fabiani said...

I love this kind of historical fiction. Like you said, the type that one can learn from. And this one sounds really good. I've had my eye on it and glad to have read your review.