The Other Einstein tells the unknown story of Mitza Maric.
a Serbian woman who has always put intellectual pursuits above that of family and traditional female domesticity. Her father has always believed in her intelligence and worked hard to get her into the best possible schools and provide her with the education that would take her beyond the normal roles for women in the late 1800s. Mitza was born with a physical impairment that causes her to walk with a limp through her life, a disability that through the course of the book seems to block her more mentally than physically.
Mtiza is granted acceptance into Zurich University to study physics (although her strong suit is Mathematics) and it is there that she meets Albert Einstein, genius and rebel. Though she tries to keep her head about her and her studies, Einstein courts her. The second half of this book concerns their life and marriage together and provides the reader with a look at Einstein many of us may not know about.
Several people have taken issue with this book for going too far away from the truth, but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. The word “fiction” is a clear indicator here that this is not a biography of these famous scientists, and Benedict mentions several times in her afterward that this is a work of fiction she embellished based on some findings that suggest Mitza may have had a hand in Einstein’s work. It’s embellished for a reason; to make the book more interesting. Had I been told this was a nonfiction work about their lives, personally I never would have picked it up. I have no interest in science or the lives of these people, but Benedict is an author I enjoy and I figured it was worth a shot as a fictionalized tale.
I found the book to be a pleasant experience. I was assigned to read this title for a book club, and I feel it is a solid choice for discussion as there’s a lot happening over the course of the Einsteins’ lives. In school we’re all taught one specific idea regarding Einstein: he was a genius. This book touches upon how the man might have been in his private life. Whether or not he was as much of a jerk as he’s presented here is unknown, but we do know he was a philanderer at the very least and had his own issues. I found Mitza to be an interesting character and loved her in the first half of the book, though my interest waned in the second because of how lost she had become. To me, when she found herself lost, she also lost her voice as a character I could relate to.
Many people have reviewed this book noting that they found the first half a bit boring and wanted to get to the conflict of the second half. I disagree in a way. I found the second half to be a lot of the same over and over again, namely Mitza stuck in a loop of endless disappointment but also not having the confidence or means to dig her way out of it. After a while, I found it boring to read about Albert being a jerk again. I’m pretty sure I got that the first time he cheated on her with his cousin.
All in all I enjoyed this book. I would absolutely read more by Marie Benedict. I didn’t come into it expecting spot on scientific jargon or a detailed biography like descriptions of their lives together, just a solid read. It was a good book club choice and an interesting look at the life of a woman I knew nothing about, even in fictionalized form.
Title: The Other Einstein
Author: Marie Benedict
Three Descriptors: Richly-Detailed, Engaging, Authentic
Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
Mrs. Engles by Gavin McCrea
The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck