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Emily and Einstein: A Novel of Second Chances


Emily and Einstein: A Novel of Second Chances

Emily Barlow loves her job as editor at a small New York publisher. She is dedicated to her authors, her publishing house, and her husband. Sandy Portman, however, is not so devoted to their life together. After two years of marriage, he wants a divorce.

But on the night he plans to drop his ultimatum, Sandy dies in a car accident caused by a small dog outside the animal hospital where Emily volunteers. Refusing to believe he's dead, he strikes a deal with the old man who comes to take him away into the nothingness. He is allowed to return to earth, but under the condition that he must help Emily. Sandy, who wants nothing more than to go back to his life before the accident, takes the deal. In an unexpected twist, he finds himself in the body of a scraggly, ugly dog named Einstein.

Insulated within her grief and disbelief, Emily makes it through the funeral in a fog. She stops by the animal hospital to check on Einstein, the dog she spent the last of her savings to rescue. In a fit of grief, she takes the pooch home as she tries to make a life for herself without Sandy.

Unfortunately, nothing is simple for Emily. Her job security crumbles in front of her eyes, her former mother-in-law wants to evict her from the apartment she shared with Sandy, and her sister, who has a tentative grip on reality, shows up on her doorstep needing money and a place to stay. For a few weeks, the only thing that tethers Emily to life is Einstein, and even he seems not to care too much for her at first.

Months pass before Emily can find her footing again. In the process of acknowledging who she is and the sham that was her marriage, she begins to understand a mother and a sister she always thought too distant and different, finds out she can still love, and learns that family is not always so worrisome.

Emily is a likable, if grief-stricken, character. Sandy differs from Emily in that he's loathsome as a person --- cheating on his wife, running away from the difficulties in life, and throwing money at everything --- and when he becomes Einstein, you revel in the fact that he's now an ugly dog. He is still arrogant, though, and considers the end of his marriage to be Emily's fault. He reneged on promises he made to her, like deeding her the apartment so his mother couldn't evict her. This, and more, makes Sandy a character you pity and despise at the same time. Before the transformation was made, Sandy was too self-involved to even look at the woman he married. As Einstein, he comes to appreciate Emily --- more than he ever did as a man.

I will admit up front that EMILY AND EINSTEIN is out of my normal genre range, but I will also admit to enjoying it quite a lot. If you're willing to look past some levels of predictability, Linda Francis Lee's new novel is a fun read. There are several intermingling stories here, and while I would have liked to have found out more about certain characters and their pasts, you learn enough to know who they are and appreciate the role they play in Emily's life. She grows while grieving for her husband, creating a new life for herself that surprises even her.

This is a feel-good tale, and there's nothing wrong with that. Also, I'm a sucker for any story that has a lovable, if ugly, dog in it. Einstein plays the part well. If you're looking for a fun Saturday afternoon read, EMILY AND EINSTEIN fits the bill perfectly.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on March 28, 2011

Emily and Einstein: A Novel of Second Chances
by Linda Francis Lee

  • Publication Date: March 27, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 0312382197
  • ISBN-13: 9780312382193