REVIEW: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

the-other-einsteinTitle: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
Pages: 304
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication date: 18th October 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: eBook
Amazon UK – Book Depository

Synopsis:

A vivid and mesmerizing novel about the extraordinary woman who married and worked with one of the greatest scientists in history.

What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.

In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever.

A literary historical in the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. PoeThe Other Einstein reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.

My review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Smith Publicity for a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest view.

First I’d like to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I know nothing about science and it was never something I was interested in learning more about in school. I did not read this book for the science part of it because I really didn’t understand a lot of the scientific references, it was lost on me. The main reason why I decided to read this was the synopsis. I was really intrigued by it and thought that it would be a really interesting and fascinating read. And I did find it to be those things. I read this book in about a week and I’m really glad I did because it was incredibly thought-provoking and made me really appreciate how lucky I have been to have been to be able to attend university and receive a degree in English Literature. I really don’t understand why women are seen to be less equal to men and why they are not worthy of receiving an education, too.

I’ll be honest and say that I know very little about Albert Einstein, just that he was a brilliant scientist. When I think of him, I certainly do not think of the women he was married too or the life he lived before he was a renowned scientist. When I picked up this book I was thinking more about him than I was about his wife, who the book was actually about. This shows how much of her life has been lost in Einstein’s shadow and though I know nothing of his personal life, after reading this book, I’m not sure if I want to. Just to let you all know, this book is a fictionalised account and we have no way of knowing for sure if any of this did happen. But after finishing this book, I have been constantly questioning how much of this could be real and how much could just have been imagined by the author. It was a very strong re-imagining of this brilliant woman and I was completely hooked on the story throughout.

Just by reading this book, I could tell that Mileva was a brilliant woman and scientist. She had worked extremely hard to gain a place at university. In 1896, she was the only female studying physics at Zürich university. It was clear to me that she had fought extremely hard to be where she was. I loved reading about her dedication to her study and how she let nothing distract her from that. She had a very powerful relationship with her father and he was a wonderful father figure for her. I loved how he fought for her education and taught her that she can more than a housewife. It made me a lot more appreciative of my own education and it was very empowering to read about her struggle because it shows how women have come a long way on their path to equality. Their fight for education and equality has impacted the future greatly and I will forever be grateful for that.

This book was very slow paced but I really enjoyed that because it gave you a lot of time to learn more about Albert and Mileva. I could tell a lot of research went into this book and it paid a lot of attention to historical details and the surroundings. I loved reading about Albert and Mileva’s relationship at university. We were able to see their relationship grow from lab partners to lovers. I liked how much Albert appreciated Mileva’s scientific mind and how much he encouraged her to grow as a scientist. I also love how many men were impressed with Mileva when she entered into a scientific discussion. I felt immensely proud reading scenes like this because it was clear how smart Mileva was and how her scientific mind needed to be appreciated more.

This is where the story took a very dark turn and I hope that Mileva didn’t have to suffer like she did in the book. I was disappointed that after she married Albert, she had to give up her scientific work. I really don’t understand why during this time, society didn’t see how a woman could be married and working. Why do they have to choose between marriage and work? I felt utterly disgusted reading this part and very appreciative of women like Mileva who fought greatly for female equality. It’s a pity how many female minds were wasted in housework and how many missed opportunity’s there might have been because of this.

No one knows for sure if and how much Mileva contributed to Albert’s work. It has been hotly debated how much Albert’s Theory of Relativity was, in fact, his wife’s own work that was robbed from her along with her success as a ground-breaking scientist. In the early stages of their marriage, we witnessed them working together on scientific projects and Mileva describes how it was during these moments that she felt most alive. But Albert erases her name from all of their work and passes it off as his own. Mileva receives no credit for the work they did together and Albert gets all the recognition. This really annoyed me and I don’t think I would have been able to stand by and let that happen. But there was a lot of stigma attached to a divorced woman so Mileva went along with it because she feared what a divorce would to do her and her family’s reputation. This saddened me greatly and I was again disgusted with the world Mileva had to live in. I was especially disgusted with Albert and part of me hopes that this isn’t true because if it is I have lost a lot of respect for him. How can he treat the woman he once claimed to love and promised a scientific career with him, so poorly? I know there is no way of knowing for sure this did in fact happen but it still angered me when I was reading these scenes. If I thought that was bad I was in for a shock because the situation becomes even worse for Mileva in Albert’s treatment of her. I was incredibly happy when she eventually realised this was not a life worth living and started to fight back and gain control of herself again. No woman deserves to be treated how she was treated just because they are a woman.

I am so grateful to Smith Publicity for getting in touch with me about this book because I’d otherwise never have read it and that would have been a great shame. I really loved this book and I would recommend this to everyone even if it’s not a genre they would normally read. Even if the events that happened in this book aren’t true, it is still a really inspiring and very empowering story, especially for young people because it shows how hard women fought for equality. I thought a lot about this book when I finished it and I know it’s a book that I will come back to time and time again.

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