Author: Linda Francis Lee
Date Published: March 1, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Publisher’s Book Summary: He was a man who didn’t deserve a second chance. But he needed one…
Emily and her husband Sandy Portman seemed to live a gracious if busy life in an old-world, Upper West Side apartment in the famous Dakota building. But one night on the way to meet Emily, Sandy dies in a tragic accident. The funeral isn't even over before Emily learns she is on the verge of being evicted from their apartment. But worse than the possibility of losing her home, Emily is stunned when she discovers that her marriage was made up of lies.
Suddenly Emily is forced on a journey to find out who her husband really was . . . all the while feeling that somehow he isn't really gone. Angry, hurt, and sometimes betrayed by loving memories of the man she lost, Emily finds comfort in a scruffy dog named Einstein. But is Einstein's seemingly odd determination that she save herself enough to make Emily confront her own past? Can he help her find a future—even after she meets a new man?
My Thoughts: This was one of those instances where the cover of the book grabbed my attention. It consists of pink and yellow tulips surrounding a park bench on which, his head cocked at a charming, funny angle, sits a very adorable tan and white dog, the "Einstein" of the title. Emily is his new owner having rescued him from a shelter where he was about to be put to sleep. They are starting a new life together in this sweet and humorous novel by Linda Francis Lee.
Emily is an intelligent, energetic and very positive woman with a sunny disposition. She's been living an enchanting life for the last few years having met and married the love of her life, Sandy. Sandy came from a very wealthy family and was very charming. He swept Emily off her feet having decided moments after meeting her that he couldn't live without her. Emily tried hard to resist his charms, believing he was insincere and spoiled. Sandy eventually won her over.
In the first few chapters of the novel, Emily's life is in ruins and she's struggling to figure out how to cope without her husband, Sandy. Emily not only has to find a new place to live but she's discovered that Sandy may not have been the loyal, loving husband she thought he was. These revelations are over-whelming for Emily and it's a struggle for her to find anything to smile about. Fortunately, she isn't totally alone. She rescued Einstein, a small, scruffy dog about to be euthanized, from the animal shelter where she volunteers. Einstein is a grouchy, ill-behaved dog who seems very attached to Emily. Einstein is also very intelligent. At times he seems too intelligent for a dog but in her grief, Emily doesn't notice.
An attractive, well-dressed woman, Emily is riddled with self-doubt and insecurities. Many readers will sympathize with her as she struggles to figure out how to cope with all that's happened to her. Ms. Lee has created a realistic woman readers will root for as she comes to the realization she has to rely on her own family to help her get through a difficult time. Remarkably, it's Einstein who helps Emily understand this and reconcile her broken relationship with her sister.
Einstein is an amazing animal, a dog who seems so much more yet he walks on four paws and is covered with fur. The significance of Einstein is revealed early in thew novel. I don't want to give it away here but I will say readers will need to suspend belief if they're to accept the "reality" of Einstein. I didn't know this aspect of the story when I started reading Emily and Einstein and found it an intriguing, delightful surprise! Although Einstein's behavior is quite different from that of other dogs and he seems too familiar with Emily's life (Einstein knows the layout of her apartment in the New York landmark residence the Dakota, which may resonate with fans of John Lennon, Leonard Bernstein etc.) neither Emily nor anyone else questions this. One fault, perhaps, of the novel is that this lack of awareness continues despite obvious scenes of Einstein acting so out of character for a dog.
Regardless, themes of love, loss and loyalty are prevalent, making this novel about second chances and redemption. The author doesn't let the story doesn't get bogged down with intense, emotionally-laden passages, a trap she could have easily fell into. Rather, Ms. Lee's writing is enticing and captivating while moving the story along at a quick pace. If there's one more criticism, however, it's that in the end, things come together for Emily almost too neatly and too easily. I don't want to say it's a clichéd happy ending, but if you like things wrapped up nice and tidy, without giving too much away, I feel confident in saying you won't be disappointed.
I received a copy of Emily and Einstein from St. Martin's Press.