The Einstein Girl

Written by Philip Sington
Review by Neville Firman

Although this novel begins in Germany two months before Hitler came to power, at first we hardly feel the presence of the Nazis. The characters are preoccupied with their own lives, and National Socialism is merely a growing menace in the background. A young woman, evidently the victim of an assault, is found near death in the woods outside Berlin. When she awakes from her coma, she has lost her memory and the only clue to her identity is a handbill advertising a public lecture by Albert Einstein on the ‘Present State of Quantum Theory’.

Martin Kirsch, a psychiatrist deeply troubled by his experiences in the First World War, takes an interest in her. She is both beautiful and extremely intelligent, and he begins to fall in love with her. He discovers that she is highly gifted in mathematics, and what little he can find out about her background leads him to believe that she has a personal link with Albert Einstein. As the threat from the Nazis grows and the new order in Germany begins to impinge on the lives of the characters, he investigates further and is led first to Switzerland and then to Serbia. But he also goes on a journey into the strange intricacies of Einstein’s own life. Kirsch knows that he carries a disease which in the end will doom him, but as the mystery is resolved in a wholly unexpected way, he finds a kind of salvation.

There is much science in this book, yet it should not put off the reader with no understanding of Einstein’s theories. They serve to enhance the emotional background, the dilemma in which Kirsch finds himself, and the growing menace of the Nazis. Well worth reading.