The Other Einstein (Hardcover)

By Marie Benedict

Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492637257, 304pp.

Publication Date: October 18, 2016

October 2016 Indie Next List

“To portray Einstein not as the scientific genius we have been led to know, but as a callous, manipulative human being is what Benedict brilliantly accomplishes. Could the highly intelligent Mileva Maric -- leading the bohemian life in 1890s Zurich -- pursue a nontraditional career in science and math and simultaneously maintain a traditional relationship with the young Albert Einstein? With historical flair, The Other Einstein presents a volatile life filled with moments of collaboration and sacrifice, humiliation and outrage, and a will to change forces to save one's own existence.”
— Mindy Ostrow (E), The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
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Description

One of PopSugar's "25 Books You're Going to Curl Up with this Fall."

"The Other Einstein takes you into Mileva's heart, mind, and study as she tries to forge a place for herself in a scientific world dominated by men."-Bustle

In the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein's enormous shadow. It is the story of Einstein's wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.

Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. And then fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, and the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.



Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. Discuss the various ways that gender affects the characters in this novel.Do you think gender would influence Mileva’s life in the same way if she lived today?
  2. How do the characters in the book—Mileva, Albert, their friends, their parents—experience religion, and does that change over the course of the story? How do Mileva’s and Albert’s different understandings of religiosity impact their relationship to each other?
  3. This novel can be seen as a quest for understanding, a search for the divine in the natural order of the world.How does the study of math and physics become this quest for Albert and Mileva?Are they, either separately or together, successful in their crusade? Does unpuzzling life’s mysteries have disparate meanings to them?
  4. Betrayal is a recurrent motif in the book and an unfortunate reality in Mileva’s life.What forms of betrayal does she experience/How does her reaction to those betrayals propel the story forward, for better or worse? Has Mileva engaged in betrayal herself?
  5. Discuss the setting of the book, a world on the brink of astounding scientific discoveries, political upheaval, and ultimately horrible World War I atrocities.Does this historical setting affect the characters? What role, if any, does it play in shaping their lives?
  6. Over the course of the novel, we learn a great deal about Mileva’s childhood and early adult years.What life events led her to math and science?What hurdles did she have to surmount to even get her footing on that path?
  7. From a very young age, Mileva assumes that she will never marry due to her physical disability.How is this disability both a blessing and a curse? How does her limp impact her differently at different life stages?
  8. Mileva and Albert are drawn to each other from the beginning of their years together at Polytechnic.What qualities compel them toward one another?Is their relationship “inevitable,” as Mileva believes?
  9. Mileva and Albert share the language of science, and it knits them together.Are they equal scientific partners from the start of their relationship?Do they become the “bohemians” they so frequently discuss?
  10. Leaving Lieserl behind with her mother while she awaits Albert in Zurich and Bern is a huge, pivotal moment for Mileva.Do you think she made the right choice? Should she have stayed with Lieserl and disobeyed Albert’s request?
  11. The loss of Lieserl impacts Mileva tremendously, yet she doesn’t fully share her feelings with Albert.Why does she keep her devastation from him? Do you thing she should have been more open with him?
  12. On several occasions throughout the novel, the characters undergo metamorphoses.What are MIleva’s changes, and what instigates them? Do some of them frustrate you or take too long?Does Albert change during the course of the novel? If so, how would you describe his evolution?
  13. While Mileva does not form friendships until rather late in her life, the ties she forms are deep.How do friendships and her acquaintances with other women factor in her ultimate life choices?
  14. Albert Einstein is arguably one of the most famous figures of the twentieth century, but The Other Einstein share a story about him that you might not have otherwise heard.Did this novel change your perception of him? About the stories we are told regarding other women in history?
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