The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict offers a fresh perspective on famous genius Albert Einstein and brings his wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, out of the shadows.
This book revolves around the life of the very real Mitza Marić, who is perhaps best known as the first wife of Einstein. However, this book shows that Mitza also had an incredible mind for physics as well, and she possessed quite a spine in order to be a woman advancing in what was known back then as an incredibly male-dominated field.
Mitza’s beginnings are the most interesting to read about since she is portrayed as a young woman who has an unwavering dedication to her studies. Her only love is science, and she is more focused on getting a proper education and jumpstarting an illustrious career rather than direct her attention toward more traditional ideas, such as marriage and starting a family. With these attributes, Mitza proves to be an admirable figure…but then she becomes involved with a fellow student by the name of Albert.
Though I was looking forward to seeing how Mitza’s relationship with her future husband would develop, the book suddenly soured as a result. Shortly after the intellectual pair dive head first into romance, the book quickly snowballs into a series of rather unfortunate events. While this had the potential to be intriguing, these misfortunes start to follow a predictable pattern that causes the story too dull. Without spoiling anything, the last half of the book seems to simply be Albert committing some awful slight against Mitza, Mitza knowing that she deserves better but still submitting herself to his disgusting behavior, and this cycle continues to repeat itself until almost the very end.
It was tragic to witness Mitza going from being a strong, serious student to a rather submissive housewife. Though Albert most definitely shoulders most of the blame in this, Mitza still allows her husband to take advantage of her intellectual gifts. By the time I reached the end of The Other Einstein, I absolutely despised Albert and was finding Mitza a touch intolerable.
In this novel, Albert is portrayed as a villain, with Mitza playing the victim. However, it is important to note that the events in this book are more or less historically accurate. There were rumors swirling about Albert and Mitza’s relationship and how much influence she had on his intellectual achievements, but none of this has ever been completely proven.
Prior to reading this book, I had only a brief understanding of Albert and absolutely no knowledge of his first wife. One of the main reasons I picked up this book, in particular, was because I tend to enjoy stories of women who have been undeservingly shoved into the shadows of history. Though I was able to learn the story of Mitza Marić, who is most definitely a fascinating individual in her own right, the story that was spun to me was often predictable and boring. Both Mitza and Albert also developed into one-dimensional characters that were honestly frustrating to behold.
While the premise of The Other Einstein was promising, it ultimately fell flat for me overall.