In her provocative novel, THE OTHER EINSTEIN, Marie Benedict examines the life of Albert Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Maric’. Born with a congenital hip defect, Mileva’s parents considered her damaged goods and not marriage material, so they redirected her to a life of scholarship. Mileva’s brilliant mind was discovered early in her life as she easily grasped complex mathematic concepts. Her father encouraged her to pursue her education, seeing that as her path forward in the world as a single woman.
Mileva was the only woman studying physics at the prestigious Zurich Polytechnic School, where she became close friends with several other women pursuing a nontraditional path. While there, she also met Albert Einstein, who won her over with promises to treat her as an equal in love and marriage.
When Mileva became pregnant with their first child, she was forced to drop out of school before receiving her degree. Mileva first conceived the theory of relativity after the death of the couple’s first child. Albert and Mileva wrote several important papers together – one that was the basis for the Nobel Prize-winning Theory of Relativity. But soon, Albert’s promises became empty, and his ambition drove him to remove Mileva’s name from the papers, claiming sole authorship. As Mileva became more immersed in her role as a mother and Albert began receiving professional recognition for his/their work, the marriage started to fall apart.
Mileva’s role as a wife and mother at the turn of the century made it nearly impossible for her to have any agency and pursue her earlier dreams, and soon she was eclipsed by Einstein’s enormous ego and profound callousness. What started as a promising partnership, deteriorated into an abusive relationship.
THE OTHER EINSTEIN is a sad commentary on love and marriage in the early nineteenth century. In this age of two steps forward one step back in equal rights for women, THE OTHER EINSTEIN is a reminder of how quickly gains can become losses. I recommend Marie Benedict’s THE OTHER EINSTEIN for fans of Paula McLain and Melanie Benjamin.
This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews.