Looking at: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
February 16, 2018
Marie Benedict’s The Other Einstein, in spite of the assumption it begs, is a profoundly effective novel.
Based on the life of Mileva Maríc, Albert Einstein’s first wife, The Other Einstein is an evocative novel about the devout physicist who stood by one of the most significant scientists ever. What sort of life did the shadow of Albert Einstein’s fame leave his family in?
The Other Einstein is littered with scientific jargon that, I won’t lie, went right over my head. However, because the premise of this novel lies in a question of Mileva’s involvement with the Theory of Relativity, the language is more than appropriate. Forsaking the bits that I didn’t understand, the novel was charming, reachable, and ultimately heartbreaking.
Even though the book is based largely on solid research, the feelings, the thoughts, the dialogue, and even a bit of the plot is pure inference, as is the way with most historical fiction. Doubts and questions aside, the novel was well written, emotive, and thought-provoking.
What begins as a woman fighting to find her way in the male-dominated field of physics, becomes a hopeful story of romance, partnership, and a life shared in profession and love. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that nothing is truly that simple. Some critics argue that the novel loses its spark along with its narrator. Conversely, I would argue that the strain, tension, and utter discomfort that a reader becomes accustomed to in the latter part of the novel is precisely what draws a reader to continue. Still, Benedict’s work is a slow read. At times, the lack of action makes it easy to lose interest, especially when the reader is not expressly interested in the scientific aspect of the novel. That aside, my biggest grievance with the novel is that much of the dialogue strikes me as wholly unauthentic.
Truthfully, the main characters, Albert and Mileva, both become utterly infuriating. Through means of domestic injustices, lost hope, negligence, and lies, both partners become virtually incomparable to the people they began as at the start of the novel, and it is the vanquishing of those spirits that propels the remainder of the novel.
This novel is undoubtedly aggravating. It fuels late nights spent pondering the sanctity of the information we are being fed. History is littered with people that have been both wrongfully credited and unjustly discredited. Novels like The Other Einstein leave a reader wondering if we are learning and passing on the truth or if we are perpetuating a history of people and their achievements being swept under the rug.
The Other Einstein, however frustrating is inarguably worth the read.
You can find this book at your local Barnes & Noble or at these links: