Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Published on: March 2011
Page Count: 368
Genre: Women’s Fiction
My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com using a monthly credit for Armchair Audiess
Audiobook Published by: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Dan John Miller and Cassandra Campbell
Audiobook Length: 10 hours and 54 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by Marley and three other ghosts in an attempt to change his heart before it is too late. Emily and Einstein is a twist on this classic tale. Sandy Portman is a man used to getting what he wants. He was born into affluence and he is as selfish and spoiled as an adult as he was as a child. He’s married to Emily, a vivacious, creative, up and coming book publicist who at one time sparked his interest. Her innate sense of joy and her unconditional love make him weary and, after just a few years of marriage, he is going to ask her for a divorce while she’s volunteering at a local animal shelter. That was the plan, anyway, until a dog dashes out into the busy New York street and causes the accident that takes Sandy’s life. Sandy feels robbed as he leaves his body. He feels entitled to more life. So, when an old man is actually able to communicate with him, he takes him up on his offer for a second chance. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that he’d have to earn his redemption while embodied in Einstein, the dog who caused his death. If Sandy was no better behaved as an adult, becoming a dog does not have an immediate impact on his worldview of even his own life. It takes the fear of fading away quickly to make him even attempt to help Emily.
Emily’s life after Sandy’s death is reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada. Her job at the publisher has little room to allow her to grieve the loss of her husband. Coworkers try to sabotage the projects she’s put her heart and soul into. When she creates success despite their interference, they then reach in to take credit. Then a formidable woman steps in to lead the company in a new direction and pushes Emily to do more and to be more. This is all too much for her on top of losing the apartment at the Dakota because, although her husband had promised to change his will and leave her the apartment were anything to happen to him, he never did. His mother expects to get it back for the family trust. All Emily has going for her a neighbor she never noticed while her husband was alive and her new dog, Einstein – and he seems to work against her more than anything else. The universe is converging on Emily, forcing her to confront the truths she refused to believe about her marriage and herself.
Emily and Einstein is narrated by Dan John Miller and Cassandra Campbell. Dan John Miller came across perfectly as the whiny, entitled Sandy/Einstein. Where Einstein’s character could very easily have been unlovable, Miller’s narration added just the right touch of irony and humor to keep the internal dialog from feeling overbearing. There are times when I’m frustrated and I want to shout, “Old man!” Likewise, Cassandra Campbell’s narration made Emily come alive. Just as with the characters in You Know When the Men are Gone (Campbell is also nominated for an Audie for this title in the Short Story Collections category), I couldn’t help but empathize with this woman who deserved so much more. Miller and Campbell fit together far better than their characters did. One note about the production of this audiobook. There were several places throughout the audiobook where it appears that sections weren’t inserted correctly. I would hear the narrator repeat the same few words twice. The first two times it happened, I went back to listen again to see if it was my phone, but in both instances, the same words were again duplicated. These repetitions didn’t keep me from enjoying the audiobook, but they were like hitting speed bumps along the way. I listened to the Audible version and it may not impact other versions.
Emily and Einstein is a sweet, creative story about love, loss, selfishness, and forgiveness. I enjoyed living in New York City with Emily and watching her grow as she faced the challenges that seemed to dump on her lap all at one time. I liked that the book felt familiar yet didn’t give in the most of the obvious plot twists. Given Sandy’s temperment and personality, I had no difficulty giving into the belief that he would become a dog after death. This book reminded me of the best parts of The Art of Racing in the Rain. If you enjoy stories of women facing difficult odds and making their own way, this is a book for you.