Rummanah Aasi
 Please note that this review is based on the advanced reader's copy of The Other Einstein which I received from Sourcebooks publishers (thank you!). The Other Einstein is now published and can be found in libraries and bookstores near you.

Description: 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.


Review:  I picked up The Other Einstein due to my limited knowledge of Albert Einstein. I know that he was a renown and brilliant scientist, famous for E=mcsquared equation, the theory of relativity, and had unruly curly hair as depicted by his numerous photos. I did not know anything about his personal life so I knew nothing about his first wife Mileva Maric who was also a brilliant scientist in her own right. I had hoped that this book would shed some light on Einstein the man and Mileva, but it is hard to judge whether this book is successful on that account because it is based on a lot of speculation rather than actual facts.
 While I admire the author for highlighting a lesser known individual, The Other Einstein did not rise above a superficial, melodramatic re-imagining of the marriage of two intellectuals. The book suffers from the lack of character development and a plot that dragged quite a bit. In fact the actual conflict felt rushed and finally appears in the last half of the book.
  The book revolves around the relationship between Albert and Mileva, but I didn't feel any chemistry between the couple nor did I think it was a true partnership. Their relationship felt very much one-side from Mileva's perspective and Albert came across as a person who took advantage of his wife's intelligence. I often found myself frustrated with Mileva, who easily allowed herself to be marginalized for so little emotional and/or professional return. It is no doubt that Mileva was a victim of her own society in where a woman's ambition to have a career much less get an education with a degree was looked down upon, but I got the impression that she was pushed into education not because of how intelligent she is but because she was deemed un-marriageable due to her leg and that inferiority complex lead her to be with Albert. Otherwise I couldn’t understand what Mileva saw in Albert.  Though the author clearly states she does not intend to stain Albert's legacy, he does come across as cold, calculating, manipulative, and difficult individual.
 In addition to the issues I have about the marriage, I also struggled with was the science behind the story. Both Albert and Mileva are highly accomplished scientists, but we don't see this in the book besides the author telling us they are in a cafe chatting about other scientists and studies. Benedict shies away from the intricacies of their studies and profession. You simply can't write a book about Einstein's accomplishment and fame without talking about physics. This is especially important when the crux of the book is the possibility of Mileva being a co-author of the theory of relativity. In the book it appears that Mileva is the person who came up with the theory and Albert took her theory and plagiarized it.
  The Other Einstein is an ambitious story and asks an interesting question particularly when sexism in the workplace is a very lively topic today. I would recommend picking up the book if you are interested in the subject, but be aware that the book is heavy on the fiction and less on the historical.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is mention of sexual situations but nothing graphic. Suitable for teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Albert Einstein/Mileva Maric: The Love Letters edited by Jurgen Renn,
In Albert's Shadow: The Life and Letters of Mileva Maric, Einstein's First Wife by Milan Popovic,
Secret Traces of the Soul of Mileva Maric-Einstein by Alter and Svetlana
6 Responses
  1. Aylee Says:

    Huh, never heard of her so I would be interested in this one as well... but I'm def disappointed to hear that in a book about this woman and her scientific accomplishments, very little science was discussed. Maybe I should look for a non-fiction book about Mileva to learn more?


  2. Kindlemom Says:

    Hmmm interesting. I'm not sure how I would feel about this, probably both fascinated and somewhat upset by the unfairness as well. Wonderful thoughtful review for this!


  3. Bummer that this wasn't as good as it sounds.


  4. I got a copy of this, but now after reading your review, I am going to pass. I have struggled with historicals lately, and I really don't like them when they take too many liberties and ficitionalize. Thanks for saving me from this one.


  5. I was also hoping it would lean more toward the historical. Too bad for that. Still, sounds like a decent enough read.


  6. Christina T Says:

    This sounded interesting. I hadn't heard of Mileva before and really know very little about Albert Einstein. I did read a book with a similar story about two fictional scientists (I believe Einstein is a secondary character) called The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams. I wonder if the author didn't write much about science because of a lack of knowledge or comfort with the subject matter. Nice review!


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