Einstein is one of the most famous names in physics, but many readers don't realize there was more than one. Mileva Maric was one of the few women who won a spot at the Zurich university where she met fellow physics student Albert Einstein in 1896. What followed, at least in Benedict's fictional account based on letters between Einstein and Maric, was a slow-burn love affair that culminated with a scandal and a quick marriage. Maric worked alongside her husband while he developed his now-famous theory of relativity, her own contributions and scientific achievements going unacknowledged as she sank further into a depression brought on by the loss of a beloved daughter and her husband's continued affairs and unwillingness to cite her contributions to his research.
Whether she played a significant role in her husband's research or not, Mileva Maric deserves to be more than a footnote in history as Einstein's first wife. She was a brilliant mind in her own right and a strong-willed woman who broke stereotypes as she fought against misogyny and prejudice to rise to the level of the academic elite in a time when women simply didn't go to college, let alone into the sciences. Benedict's speculation about Maric's role in the creation of the theory of relativity is fascinating, but while the first half of Maric's life is extraordinary, her story arc borders on tragic as it takes her from starry-eyed academic ingénue to beleaguered housewife and grieving mother.
Reviewed by ba, 02/17. Other reviews by ba.