Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on November 13, 2019
This book is about Albert Einstein 's first wife, Mileva "Mitza" Maric, a Serbian woman with a limp whose parents didn't believe she had any hopes of a future with a husband but was rather brilliant with math and science and could possibly have a future as a professor and doing research. Switzerland was a progressive country that was allowing women into its colleges and universities and Mileva was accepted into Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich.

She took up lodging at Engelbrecht Pension an all-girl boarding house where she became friends with Milana, Ruzica, and most especially Helena who also had a limp. She had never had friends was always teased and ridiculed. In class, Dr. Weber was particularly hard on her because she was a woman and because she was Serbian. One student reaches out to.her and that student was Albert Einstein. He flirted shamefully with her and she turned him down. Her friend Ruzica talked her into going into one of the cafes where Einstein and his friends were having an intellectual discussion on science and she found herself drawn into the discussion. When Einstein found out about the women's playing music after dinner he showed up uninvited with his violin to play with Milena. The other women don't much care for him, though.

Helena and Milena have made a pact to not have a man in their lives and to focus on their careers. But soon, Helena has found a man to love and has broken the pact. So, Milena doesn't see why she has to keep the pact too, especially when her mother is encouraging her to pursue romance even though her father is against it. Einstein and Milena have talked about marriage and while Einstein has graduated now and is looking for work, which is hard because his teachers aren't giving him good recommendations due to his absentees from class and his disrespect toward them. Milena took a semester off her second year in order to cool off her feelings for him and got behind in school which meant that she had to wait another year before she could take the test.

Einstein talks her into taking a vacation at Lake Como where they can make love before they get married. Milena comes back pregnant and Einstein won't marry her without a steady job. She flunks the exams due to her pregnancy and he refuses to come to her home to talk to her parents about the pregnancy. He has a lead on a job in the Patent Office but for now, he's tutoring. She takes the train up to the next stop to see him but he refuses to take the train up to the next stop to see her. Eventually, her money runs out and she must go back home furious at him for not seeing her. She has a baby girl that he asks her to leave with her parents six months later because he got the patent office job and he listed himself as unmarried and he can't show up with a child in tow. So she does for now.

On a paper they worked on together he asks that she take her name off of it in order for him to get better job prospects when he shows it to a friend. A year later their daughter comes down with scarlet fever and dies. On the way home riding the train, she comes up with the Theory of Relativity. The year 1905 was known as Einstein's Year of Wonder. He published four groundbreaking papers. Milena's name was supposed to be on them but he took her name off of them. She was furious. This cracked their marriage. Not to mention the infidelity. Einstein was a real bastard.

While this book plays a little fast and loose with the facts in that no one really knows what really happened and the author is imagining what she thinks happened, it is indeed a possibility. You really feel sorry for Milena who loses everything in her association with Einstein. This was a really good book that tells an incredible story. I give it five out of five stars.
I had become the embodiment of the old Serbian phrase the house doesn’t rest on the earth but on the woman.
-Marie Benedict (The Other Einstein p 175)
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