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Mrs. Einstein Paperback – 5 Nov 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Paperback, 5 Nov 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; New edition edition (5 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862300070
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862300071
  • Package Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,164,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

In January 1902 Albert Einstein's future wife Mileva Maric, a fellow student at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich, gave birth to a baby girl in her hometown of Novi Sad in southern Hungary. The pregnancy was kept a secret from the couple's closest friends, and little Lieserl was given up for adoption. Einstein and Mileva eventually married in 1903 and produced two sons. They divorced in 1918 and Einstein married his cousin Elsa. Nothing more is known about Einstein's daughter, whose very existence remained a jealously guarded secret until 1986.

In Mrs Einstein, Anna McGrail imagines what might have become of Lieserl. The discarded daughter grows up with an astonishing mind and an abiding hatred for her father. Given her extraordinary mathematical ability--an ability she insists she has inherited from her mother--she resolves to haunt her father's scientific career and determines to master the cutting-edge physics of the day, the science of gravity and light. She will match each of Einstein's mathematical proofs with one of her own that goes beyond its conclusions or undermines its findings.

Repeatedly thwarted by her material disadvantages and her restricted access to the current scientific journals, she eventually hits on an uglier plan. She will use Einstein's own great equation, e = mc2 , to engineer a nuclear bomb. This ultimate weapon of mass destruction will be based on the scientific theories of the world-famous pacifist, and Einstein himself will be forced to recognize this fact by the daughter he resolutely refused to acknowledge. At this point McGrail returns us for a brief moment from fiction to history: Lieserl's crucial discovery of the splitting of a uranium atom was indeed made by a woman scientist, Lise Meitner, in 1938.

Lieserl's obsession with her father takes her on a picaresque journey across Europe and on to America, accompanied by her larger-than-life friend and protector, the German teacher Maja. They survive a sequence of bizarre adventures that range from the absurdly comical to the tragic. McGrail's fictional tale is sharply written, with enough mathematical detail woven in to make the Lieserl character thoroughly convincing. Maja, an ingenious counterbalance for her single-minded heroine, is a bizarrely effective manipulator of the two women's fortunes. Her ageless, chameleonic beauty is magically modified to seduce any who stand in their way, improbably opening doors for them wherever they go.

This is an entertaining, readable novel in which magical realism contrives a quirky kind of verisimilitude for a plot that is ultimately driven by the intricate twists and turns of 20th- century science. There is a gentle irony in McGrail's championing of a forgotten daughter and her ill-treated mother that keeps the reader amused and attentive, and is never solemnly insistent. --Lisa Jardine


When Albert Einstein was a young man, his wife-to-be gave birth to a daughter, Lieserl, whom they gave up for adoption. Anna McGrail imagines this life for Lieserl, whose sole desire is to beat her father at his own game - to teach him that his actions have consequences that cannot be denied.

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27 April 2001
Format: Paperback
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24 August 2006
Format: Paperback
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16 February 2011
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Most helpful customer reviews on 3.7 out of 5 stars 11 reviews
Barbara Klein
4.0 out of 5 starsImportant addition to literature of WWII
16 September 1998 - Published on
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3 people found this helpful.
rJo Herman
5.0 out of 5 starsONE OF THE GREAT READS OF ALL TIME...
16 November 2013 - Published on
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One person found this helpful.
5.0 out of 5 starsCompelled to write after hearing from Santa Clara reader
6 July 1998 - Published on
Bob Burton(
3.0 out of 5 starsNot Quite the Sum of Its Parts
7 February 1999 - Published on
One person found this helpful.
4.0 out of 5 starsI must have been in just the right mood.
10 January 1999 - Published on
4 people found this helpful.

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