Historical fiction which will forever change your perception of one of the most famous names in science. 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book in return for an honest review.
The Other Einstein will be published on October 18th.
The blurb: 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. Poe, The Other Einstein reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.
First, a warning: if you read this book, the words “Albert Einstein” will cease to solicit the immediate reaction of “total genius” from you. Instead, your first thoughts on hearing his name are likely to be, forever more, “what a total b*stard!”.
I’m very glad I read The Other Einstein. I’m pleased I now know that a certain amount of credit for the theory of relativity is believed to lie with Mileva Maric Einstein, Albert’s first wife, a brilliant mathematician and physicist in a time widely hostile to women pursuing a career in academia. Just how much credit is apparently a matter of considerable debate in the physics community, but hopefully this book can make some contribution to making more people aware of Mileva’s existence.
Don’t worry if you have no interest in physics. The Other Einstein focuses on Mileva’s inner life, her friendships and relationship with Albert. The first third of the book is particularly captivating. It chronicles Mileva’s entry into university life in Zurich at the end of the nineteenth century, and her exhilaration and enthusiasm for her new situation, friends and studies are infectious. However, as her destiny becomes ever more intertwined with and subsumed into that of Albert Einstein, the story becomes increasingly depressing. Depressing partly because of its sad familiarity: a brilliant woman being denied the opportunity to use her gifts and when she does she is robbed of the credit she deserves by someone she should have been able to trust. The latter part of the book also becomes rather repetitive and a waiting game to see how long Mileva can put up with a mixture of neglect and mistreatment before she tells Albert to get stuffed.
Overall: a sad story, but one that deserves to be told. And if you’ve never heard of Mileva Maric Einsten before and her whole story would be new to you, I’d certainly urge you to read The Other Einstein.