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The Einstein Girl [Paperback]

Philip Sington
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2010

At the heart of truth lies madness...

Two months before Hitler's rise to power, a beautiful young woman is found naked and near death in the woods outside Berlin. When she finally wakes from her coma, she can remember nothing, not even her name. The only clue to her identity is a handbill found nearby, advertising a public lecture by Albert Einstein: 'On the Present State of Quantum Theory'.

Psychiatrist Martin Kirsch takes the case, little suspecting that this will be his last. As he searches for the truth about 'the Einstien Girl', professional fascination turns to reckless love. His investigations lead him to a remote corner of Siberia via a psychiatric hospital in Zurich. There the inheritor of Einstein's genius - his youngest son, Eduard - is writing a book that will destroy his illustrious father and, in the process, change the world.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099535793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099535799
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 531,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Sington was born in Cambridge. His father was an industrial chemist and his mother an officer in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). He studied history at Trinity College, Cambridge and then worked as a business journalist and magazine editor for nine years, specialising in coverage of Spain and the Spanish-speaking world.

Between 1993 and 2001 he co-authored six novels under the joint pseudonym Patrick Lynch, selling well over a million copies worldwide. The third, 'Carriers', was adapted for the screen in 1998. He also co-wrote the stage play 'Lip Service', which premiered at the Finborough Theatre, London in 2000 and was awarded 4 stars by 'The Scotsman' at the 2001 Edinburgh Festival.

His first solo novel, 'Zoia's Gold', was published in 2005. This was followed in 2009 by 'The Einstein Girl', and by 'The Valley of Unknowing' in 2012. His work has been translated into twenty-one foreign languages.

Philip lives in London with his German wife, Uta, and their two children.

Product Description


"A serious, well-informed and interesting thriller about the private life and family of an undoubted genius. Excellent period setting in Berlin in 1932 and numerous psychological insights... highly recommended" (Jessica Mann Literary Review)

"A stylish thriller... Strands of history and imagination are beautifully woven together" (The Times)

"A first-rate historical thriller, set in the early 1930s and inspired by correspondence between Einstein and his first wife... Sington's grasp of period detail is awesome...and his writing has a rich, lustrous quality...This is a serious novel with plenty to say about the unhappy affinity between genius and madness" (John O'Connell The Guardian)

"Intriguing novel... atmospheric thriller" (Irish Independent)

"Sington creates a sense of unease from the first page" (Alastair Mabbott Herald)


'A dark and beautiful novel, a fascinating historical thriller, and a tender love story.' - Rebecca Stott, author of New York Times bestselling Ghostwalk
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Illusion 23 July 2010
Subtle, intelligent and thought-provoking, this is much more than a conventional thriller. It concerns two people searching for truth and hope in a world driven by hatred, ignorance and war; two lovers caught up in the great tide of history.

Martin Kirsch is a psychiatrist about to married into high society, but increasingly at odds with his own profession. At a time when the madness of industrial warfare seems not only possible but inevitable, the question of what constitutes sanity and insanity is, for him, unresolved. When a young woman he recognises from a brief, romantic encounter, turns up unconscious in a nearby hospital, her memory seemingly erased, he feels compelled to take over the case. With fascination turning (dangerously) to love, his investigations reveal a series of tantalizing connections between `Patient E' and Albert Einstein, the Nazis' most influential and outspoken enemy. Believing that Einstein himself may hold the key to unlocking his patient's mind, Kirsch travels into the shadows of the great physicist's life, sustained by the belief that with great wisdom comes great goodness. What he discovers is as troubling as it is strange - like Einstein's universe itself.

Like its characters, the setting of `The Einstein Girl' (mainly Germany in the months before Hitler comes to power) is specific and vividly brought to life, but its themes are universal: love and knowledge, the illusions and delusions human beings live by, the extent of responsibility we have for one another.

This is a sensitive, incisive and beautifully written book. While deeply mysterious, it never resorts to the kind of standard devices common to genre fiction; nor does it ever step over the line into implausibility. The final twist connects everything, and is one that should not be missed!

All in all, a unique and classy novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classy and intelligent 26 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In pre-war Germany a young girl is found barely alive near Potsdam. She seems to have no memory and the only clue as to her identity is a handbill advertising a lecture by Einstein. Einstein has a summer house in the locality so there is a possibility that she was on her way there. The police are baffled and the press interested and soon she is named in the newspapers as the Einstein Girl.

Martin Kirsch is a sympathetic psychiatrist (who has coincidentally seen her before her accident) and is fascinated by her case and she enters his hospital for treatment. Strong links with Einstein emerge - but as we are in a world of insanity it is hard to know the truth from dreams. Even Martin has problems with reality as his latent syphilis moves into a dangerous stage.

The Einstein Girl is very good on describing the prevailing atmosphere of inter-war Europe. The emergence of the Nazis as a political force is well told - as are the subtle shifts in the requirements of the medical staff to collaborate with the authorities.

This was an intriguing read - quite challenging in parts. It was advertised as a thriller but it was not really part of that genre. It was not a "whodunit" - more of a "what's going on?"

Classy and intelligent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth it in the end 8 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Certainly an intriguing historical novel based around fact that Sington then develops into a slow burner of a thriller.

It's not fights and flights, rather atmospheric, drawing you in to the characters and their seemingly lost selves.

I did find it hard going at times, on occasion the personal letters included were unclear as to whom they were written or written by, but there's a fitting climax that makes it worth it in the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fact or Fiction? 20 Oct 2010
The Einstein Girl is a thriller and a love story in one: a page-turner with emotion.

Positive - By using real and well-known characters from history one is never sure, even at the end, how much Philip Sington is writing fact and how much fiction - this is one of the main ingredients that keeps the pages turning.

Negative - One of the `rules' of good writing is `show don't tell'. I felt that perhaps too much of this story was told in the form of letters and not by taking us to the action.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth persevering 9 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It took a while to get into this book but it was worth persevering with as I enjoyed it in the end.

There is a 'flash-forward' scene at the beginning which confused me and then a hospital scene which I found a little too graphic, but I persevered and found the book became clearer as to sequence of events and more enjoyable.

The main character, a psychiatrist, soon engaged my sympathy. The action is set in Berlin in the early 1930s and the political developments are seen through his eyes. They are not referred to very much and when they are they tend to be relevant to the plot, rather than to show how much the author has researched the period.

There are some references to Einstein's work which I found hard going and I tended to skim over them but this proved not to matter.
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