the guardian Fri 21 August 2009
A first-rate historical thriller, set in the early 1930s and inspired by correspondence between Einstein and his first wife, the Serbian mathematician Mileva Maric. It follows a psychiatrist, Martin Kirsch, across Germany, Switzerland and Serbia as he tries to uncover the identity of an amnesiac woman found near death in woods outside Berlin, a soggy handbill near her body advertising a public lecture by Einstein. Sington's grasp of period detail is awesome - the gramophone records fanned out against crushed velvet in a shop window, the roast-chestnut smell of Grenadierstrasse in Berlin's Jewish quarter - and his writing has a rich, lustrous quality: like being chauffeured in a vintage Bentley, albeit one that can do nought to 60 in three seconds. This is a serious novel with plenty to say about the unhappy affinity between genius and madness.