Against all odds, Mileva Maric arrived at the Polytechnic in Zurich, determined to make something of herself in the male-dominated world of physics. She almost succeeded too, dazzling her colleagues with her unusual brilliance and winning the respect of the erstwhile disdainful Professor Weber. Then she fell in love.
From the first moment a mustachioed, brown-eyed man smiled at her in class, something was set off. Albert and Mileva became friends, and joined forces to become a formidable team in physics. From their union, several world-changing ideas sprang.
The Other Einstein is a story of love, loyalty, sacrifice, family, friendship, and physics, the courage and the suffering of a woman who birthed some of the most revolutionary theories in physics in her moments of deepest pain.
As the story begins, there is a sense one gets, of the author trying too hard to fit Mileva into a mould, to tick all the “right boxes” as a physicist. Regardless, I liked the story enough that I got swept away in it, following Mileva’s highs and lows with rapt attention. I know this is a work of fiction, but I almost don’t like Albert Einstein at all now.
It is a good thing that Mileva’s story is being told; I did not know about her until I came across this book. There is speculation about whether or not she contributed anything to his career or the papers he wrote. But I like the idea that Albert Einstein was maybe not genius all by himself, that he had someone who was more than a footnote in his story or a sounding board for his ideas.
The plot seems narrow, too singular in focus; all of the other characters are like shadows compared to Albert and Mileva. It could have had more breadth, we could have done with more information about them, or even more about Mileva and Albert from the others’ point of view. Anything to break the monotony of Mileva’s thought train.
None of the characters are strong enough to make a lasting impression. Helene tended towards strength but got smothered somewhere along the way.
It is an important and interesting story. I recommend reading it, if only for the speculation and/or research you’re bound to begin as a result.
Rating: 3 Stars
*The publisher provided an ARC (via Netgalley) in exchange for a review.