This was originally published by Doubleday, 1998; US edition: Norton, 1998; German edition: Fraulein Einstein’s Universum, Diana, 1998. The book did very well but, after several years, went out of print. However, people kept finding copies in second-hand bookshops and leaving lovely comments on Good Reads and Amazon, so I decided to bring it out again as an ebook, hoping that more people will enjoy this fictionalised account of the life of Lieserl Einstein.
She is real, Lieserl Einstein; she did exist. The physicist’s illegitimate daughter, her existence became public knowledge only in the 1980s. We don’t know what happened to her. My novel takes the few facts we have and makes them a springboard for a tour through twentieth-century physics. My Lieserl inherits her father’s genius and her mother’s mathematical ability and decides to use these gifts for one end only: revenge. The Times Literary Supplement reviewer, Lesley Chamberlain, praised the novel as: “An intimate history of atomic power, a gripping and enlightening adventure into scientific ideas, a fusion of poetry and physics.”
“ONE OF THE GREAT READS OF ALL TIME…” — Amazon reader review, November 2013
Other comments on the novel:
“Virginia Woolf would have killed for this story… A moving, disturbing study of the chaos at the heart of all human actions.” — Time Out
“A ‘what-if’ novel such as this can be a letdown unless it is written with depth of knowledge and exceptional narrative skill. This one has been brought off brilliantly.” — Peter Lewis, Daily Mail
“This astonishing novel by English writer Anna McGrail… In MRS EINSTEIN, she takes on the ambitious task of putting the history of modern science, and the discovery of the atomic bomb, at the center of a novel… This was fertile ground for the right novelist, and McGrail is the one.” — Jay Parini, Washington Post
“A powerful imagination and sure grasp of modern developments in mathematics and physics are the chief distinguishing virtues of this superb second novel by the British author of BLOOD SISTERS” — Kirkus Reviews
“‘I am the detail of the 20th century,’ asserts Lieserl, staking her claim to a place in the line-up of extraordinary fin-de-siècle ﬁctional women… Anna McGrail, in her absorbing exploration of genius and obsession was inspired by the few facts known about the illegitimate daughter of Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric, who was to become his ﬁrst wife. Einstein’s letters indicate that the baby died of scarlet fever; in McGrail’s account she survives, inherits her parents’ brilliance and channels it into revenge.” — Geraldine Brennan, New Statesman
“Great fictional, but still historical account of what it was like for an aspiring woman physicist during the first half of this century. Wonderfully written! I highly recommend…” — Abby; GoodReads.com, October 2013
This was my first novel, originally published by Richard Cohen Books in 1995 and now an ebook. It is Gothic and a little bit gruesome. I wanted to ask the question: What happens if you take the faith in which you have been brought up really, really seriously? The two friends in this novel do, and it leads them to make enormous sacrifices for each other.
Eleanor and Jo test the truth of their childhood faith: that we suffer for those we love, and the proof of our love is our suffering.
“A superb first novel that explores the bond of friendship against the background of a Catholic childhood.” — Publishing News
“A shocking and yet tender expose of human needs and desires.” — Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Tablet
“A courageous and confident first novel.” — The Times
“Here perhaps is Miss McGrail’s real strength: unlike many novelists, she doesn’t weigh her reader down with heavy and raw emotions but gives us a well finished piece of work which, though told in the first person, preserves a gentle detachment from what it is describing and brings it into clear, and often comic, focus.” — The Catholic Herald