This book review was a bit of a change from the kinds of books I’ve been reading lately. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict is the story of Albert Einstein ‘s first wife and their relationship. When I read about their relationship, I was super interested in the kind of courtship that they had and all of the newlywed-phase shenanigans. Anyway! Before I give away too many details about the book, I need to say a big thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for sending me a copy of this book to review. While technically a historical fiction piece, this book was so much more than that for me. I was excited to read this book from the beginning and couldn’t wait to get to know the main character. She seemed like she had a lot in common with yours truly and I was really quite excited to find our how she’d handle a husband like Albert. Would they be good together or tear each other apart? Retrospectively, I don’t think I would have fared much differently than she did. Before I give away too much, let’s get to the summary!
We meet our heroine, Mileva, or Mitza as she is starting an ambitious pursuit for the time (1896), enrolment in a physics degree program. She is placed in a small class where she is the only female. She quickly makes an acquaintance in Albert Einstein. Charming and charismatic, Albert quickly begins to court Mitza and to develop a scientific partnership with her. When Albert appeals to her intellect, we find one of Mitza’s soft spots, the need to be taken seriously as a scientist. She repeatedly longs for partnership in the scientific community, where she can be acknowledged for her ideas. We later understand that her need for recognition stems from a limp that she had since childhood – her parents encouraged Mitza to study and to achieve great things on her own, as they feared that marriage was unlikely due to her limp. So not cool, guys. Anyway, as Albert’s fame starts to skyrocket, we’re left to wonder if he’ll still support Mitza and put her first like he promised or if he’ll let his growing popularity get in the way. If his popularity does come first, how will Mitza feel?
I really loved this book! I rooted for Mitza the whole way through and found her to be enormously relatable. I understood perfectly her need to be recognized for her intellectual abilities. Even when her relationship with Albert started to go downhill, I kept hoping for her that things would turn around and that Mitza and Albert would be fantastically happy together. The point is that our heroine, Mitza was simply wonderful. I liked Albert much, much less due to his deceit and treachery. *shakes fist in his general direction* Now that I got that off my chest, I should mention that I also really appreciated the author’s attempts to preserve the integrity of characters and events as much as possible in this book. The writing style was a bit bookish, but I didn’t find it to be condescending or arrogant in any way. I really liked Benedict’s writing and found that it suited the characters perfectly. What did I not like about the book? Albert Einstein was much more of a dipsh*t than I previously thought, but I really tried to remember that it’s just a book and he might not have actually been as horrible as he seems. That felt really good to get that out of my system. I would absolutely recommend this book to historical fiction buffs and people who appreciate a strong protagonist. I would also recommend this book to people who like to read about female strength and empowerment. This book was great and I loved it!