I thoroughly enjoyed this book! One of my favorite book styles is to take a lesser known character or event from history and develop a story around it. I enjoy an in-depth researched story, whether it is fiction or non-fiction. The Other Einstein is historical fiction. Warning: if you are a major fan of Albert Einstein, he is not very appealing in this book. Actually, he is portrayed as quite an ass!
This book follows the life and career of Mileva Maric, who will eventually become Mrs. Einstein. She is a Serbian girl who has great skill in mathematics and physics. Her father encourages her education, partly because she was born with a limp and the family believes no one will marry her. With her father's help and encouragement, she is accepted at university in Zurich Switzerland. She lives in a pension with three other brilliant girls who are in the city to attend universities. She is the only female in her physics class and the professor does not hide his contempt. Mileva works hard and excels beyond her male peers. Albert Einstein is one of her classmates and he is clearly smitten with her. She resists at first because she wants to be taken seriously as a scholar and because she does not want to derail her education. Albert wears her down, despite the warnings of her best friend Helene. Also, Helene meets and eventually marries a man, thus breaking their pact to remain single and career focused.
Albert and Mileva have a wonderful courtship and he treats her as an intellectual equal. They work together. He also pressures her to adopt a Bohemian lifestyle. By Bohemian, he means have sex out of wedlock. She becomes pregnant and has a daughter. She is unable to graduate and does not earn her degree. At this point their relationship slowly disintegrates. Albert is unable to find work, partly due to his arrogant attitude. He refuses to meet his daughter and she dies very young. The death deeply affects Mileva. Albert later marries her, despite the opposition of his family and they have two sons. The relationship sours further.
The premise of this story is that Mileva is the one who actually discovered and articulated the Theory of Relativity while she was mourning for her daughter. Albert and Mileva co-write the paper, though he removes her name without her knowledge. He publishes all their work under his name and gives her no credit. He also becomes an increasingly bitter, nasty, egotistical, and vindictive man. Mileva wants a divorce, but that is not an easy thing in the early 1900's.
Mileva's real role in the Theory of Relativity is unknown. Among scientists and scholars, some believe she was a sounding board for Albert, others believe that she did the mathematical equations for his theories, and some believe she is the author. I enjoyed this book because I learned about science at the turn of the 20th century. I was enraged at the treatment of women, especially the way that intelligent women were belittled and looked upon with suspicion. There were several times when I was internally screaming at Mileva to grow a spine or at least bash Albert in the head with a book! In other words, the characters and the story evoked strong feelings for me. And that is a sign of a good book!