The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

img_3128In 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.”

The Other Einstein is a historical fiction novel that attempts to bring to life the story and perspective of Albert Einstein’s first wife Mileva Marić during their time together. Mileva was a talented physicist in her own right and there is much debate and speculation as to how much she contributed to Einstein’s work and discoveries. The novel does have brief mentions of Mileva’s upbringing and early love of science, however it focuses almost entirely on her courtship and tumultuous relationship with Einstein.

The Other Einstein provides very little in terms of the story of “the other Einstein,” and instead provides an account of a highly dysfunctional relationship and lacklustre romance. Mileva is a fascinating person and a great subject for a work of historical fiction, however, she comes across as frustratingly meek in contrast to Einstein’s egotistical and condescending nature. There is a considerable lack of depth and nuance as one character is a constant victim and the other a villain. There is no real connection between the two, especially as Einstein transforms from a young and quirky University student into an arrogant and self-centred jerk. Their exchanges become increasingly more awkward as the story goes along, especially as it becomes peppered with the use of cringeworthy nicknames in almost every piece of dialogue. Unfortunately this novel fell short of what is a very interesting and compelling subject.

*ARC provided by NetGalley. Publication date: October 18, 2016.

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