by Marie Benedict
The Other Einstein is based on of real people but to me this was more a work of historical fiction and less of the non fiction entwined. I thought originally that it would be more non fiction with fiction to make it more readable and fun. I still enjoyed the book very much but was looking for more from this very mysterious and important women in the field of science. I love science and consider myself a bit of a science geek so to read a story about a strong girl who was paving the way for other women back in late 1800’s. I thought the author could have made her a bit more strong back boned girl I felt at times she was weaker than I imagine her to be. If you are looking for a historical read that is based on of more fact than fiction than you might want to skip this one. If you are looking for a good solid historical fiction book with a bit of fact than this one is for you. For me I’m usually more of the fiction reader than non so I guess that is where I was OK with how the book turned out. I ended up giving this one a solid 4 stars and would add this to a book gifting list for a few fellow bookworms I know.
I was able to ask the author a question that she answered, her response if below the book summary if you would like to read it.
summary: 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. A literary historical in the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.
Me: Some have said that Mileva helped Einstein with his early work in Physics. Others say she was just a supportive role. Do you believe that it is also the time that they lived in where women did not have high academic roles and jobs that played a part in this great debate?
Marie Benedict: When I first learned about Mileva Maric — the first wife of Albert Einstein and a physicist herself, about whom I wrote THE OTHER EINSTEIN — I assumed that her history was unknown, as I was unfamiliar with her story and the potential role she may have played in the great scientist’s work. Contrary to my assumption, while Mileva was not widely known, she was the focal point of some debate in the physics community once the letters between Albert and Mileva were discovered in the 1980s in which their shared scientific work was referenced. While some physicists maintained that, since definitive evidence did not exist demonstrating Mileva’s precise role, she must have played no role at all, others pointed to her physics training and the collaborative nature of their relationship to support the view that Mileva’s role may have been significant.
Factors other than the evidentiary nature of letters themselves may have played a role in forming the viewpoints of this debate in the physics community. Possibly, as the interviewer suggests, the fact that the times in which Albert and Mileva lived — with its conscriptions on women’s academic roles — led those in the physics community to argue for a very limited role for Mileva in the theories ascribed to Albert. This factor, however, does not explain their perspective fully, as Mileva had proven her ability to overcome societal and academic barriers when she surmounted the hurdles to admission into a university physics program.
Perhaps other beliefs impacted the view that Mileva played little to no role in Albert’s theorizing, such as unfortunate ideas about the validity of women in STEM fields. After all, Mileva’s physics training was the same as Albert’s, and the letters demonstrate not only her vibrant intellect but also the collaborative scientific nature of the relationship between Albert and Mileva. And during the 1905 publication of the four ground-breaking theories ascribed to Albert, he was also working a full-time position as a clerk in the Bern patent office. Why wouldn’t physicists assume that Mileva played at least some role in these theories, unless hampered by other contrary beliefs?
Even if Mileva’s role was only supportive in nature, is that not worthy of credit and commendation? If she assumed all the household responsibilities and the minutia of their shared lives — even taking in borders to bring more money into their household, which she did — then Albert was permitted greater freedom of time and space to undertake the 1905 theories. Why is Milena not given ample credit for that contribution, even by those detractors who minimize her? THE OTHER EINSTEIN invites readers into this debate, offering one — albeit fictional— view, and encouraging others into this still very current conversation.
Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark for allowing me to read and promote The Other Einstein. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.