Author Spotlight: Marie Benedict

I try to read books from several different genres, including non-fiction, which I will have several reviews of coming this summer. I do have favorite authors and will try to read all of their works in the order they are published. One of my favorites is historical fiction writer Marie Benedict. Her stories portray women as having played a key role in history during a time when women were not allowed fair access to education. Although her stories are fabricated to a degree, they still give the reader an idea of what women endured during that time. Click here to visit the Marie Benedict’s website.

A quirk I have when it comes to reading is that I occasionally do research on why the author wrote the book before I begin reading it. I feel like if I don’t, then I’m not connecting with the author and fully understanding why the book was written.

Title: The Other Einstein
Author: Marie Benedict
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 336

A marriage of geniuses: In a time when most twenty-year-old women were wives, or trying to be, Mileva Maric was studying physics at an elite university in Zurich. Her rise from the relative backwater of misogynistic Serbia to all-male university classrooms in Switzerland was nothing short of meteoric. Her male peers could only try to keep up with her clever calculations. For Mileva, math was an easier path than marriage. Then, fellow student Albert Einstein took an interest in her and the world turned sideways. Their life together was a partnership of heart and mind. But could there be room for more than one genius in a marriage?

The other Einstein: Mileva Maric was a fascinating, brilliant physicist in her own right. She was, in fact, the other Einstein. In the world of physics, there’s much debate over the role she played in forming the theory of special relativity, one of her husband’s greatest works. Was she simply a sounding board, computing the complex mathematical equations? Or did she contribute something more?

Review from Amazon.

My Thoughts
I read this book in one day two years ago. I absolutely loved it and it’s on my Goodreads’ favorites list. Mileva Maric is one of my favorite characters in literature due to her ability to withstand pressure from males to not further her research and education. Einstein was not an easy man to live with, but Maric had the ability to withhold her own.

There is some controversy over the book, which you can read about in an article published by Notre Dame Magazine and written by Stacy Nyikos. No proof is available that Maric did contribute to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Benedict is suggesting that Maric did play a role and did not receive credit due to women’s limitations in academia at the time.

Click here to purchase The Other Einstein.

Title: Carnegie’s Maid
Author: Marie Benedict
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 352

In the age of the Industrial Revolution, Clara Kelley makes the journey from Ireland to America in hopes of creating a new life to support her poor Irish family. When she lands, the unexpected happens. A gentleman working for Mrs. Seeley, owner of a servants’ registry in Pittsburgh, confuses her with another Clara Kelley traveling second class on the ship. Realizing that the Clara Kelley expected did not make the journey successfully, Kelley decides to take the job of being Mrs. Carnegie’s maid. She has no experience being a lady’s maid as the real Clara Kelley does and is also Catholic which is forbidden in the Carnegie household, but keeps up the ruse in order to provide financially. Mrs. Carnegie comes fully to rely on Kelley and earns her full trust. Andrew Carnegie falls in love with Kelley’s grace, beauty and intelligence. Kelley’s ideas will forever change Carnegie’s ideas of business and philanthropy.

My Thoughts
I was not sure at first if I would enjoy Carnegie’s Maid as much as The Other Einstein, but by the end I loved this novel just as much. Kelley and Carnegie’s relationship is forbidden and must be kept secret, but does not stop them from having numerous discussions on how to help immigrants succeed in America. Kelley changes him from a cold businessman to one of the most well known philanthropists. The change in Carnegie is what makes this novel a worthy read.

Benedict’s Inspiration

Benedict’s ancestors were Irish immigrants just like Clara Kelley and used one of the libraries Carnegie founded to educate themselves. The self taught immigrants in her family worked as steel and mill workers. Due to the benefit of having access to free resources, they slowly became families working as doctors, lawyers and professors. Benedict’s story is supported by the idea that some historians have of a personal relationship changing Carnegie.

Further Reading

Click here to purchase Carnegie’s Maid.

Title: The Only Woman in the Room
Author: Marie Benedict
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 272
Hedy Lamarr, a beauty icon, fled Austria when her husband, one of the wealthiest men in Austria, began supporting Hitler’s regime by providing ammunition. Lamarr learned the German secrets, including the weakness of German torpedoes, while attending dinners with her husband and would read science books after he retired to bed. She meets Louis Mayer in London and soon begins her acting career in Hollywood. She was not only a great beauty and actress, but a brilliant inventor who used the knowledge gained about German torpedoes to try to undermine the Third Reich. The novel is based on true events.

My Thoughts
I enjoyed reading about Hedy Lamarr’s attempt to save many lives during World War II. She was definitely a woman before her time in her amount of independence and knowledge. Her giving heart and nature shows in the novel.

Read more about Maurice Benedict’s inspiration for the novel here.

Click here to purchase The Only Woman in the Room.

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