In this novel Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee, Emily and her husband Sandy Portman live a charmed life (at least on the surface) 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. As Emily tries to deal with the death of her husband she discovers some secret journals hidden in her husband’s rooms. It turns out that Sandy has been cheating on Emily and as she reads through the terrible details she realizes her marriage was a lie.
Now Emily is forced on a journey to find out who her husband really was. Yet somehow she feels he isn’t really gone. That’s because he is reincarnated in the scruffy dog from the shelter she names Einstein. Sandy/Einstein turns out to be not so lovable, in fact I found him to be entirely selfish. If he wasn’t hopeful of returning as a human, I’m not sure he would have helped Emily at all. I stuck with the story because I did care for Emily and felt that she really got a bad deal in marrying Sandy. Have no fear though, the author wraps everything up nicely for a happy ending.
In anticipation of the July release of the movie I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. The story begins with Lily as she is haunted by memories of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has reached the advanced age of eighty and has nothing but time to think back.
In nineteenth-century China, wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion. The cruelty and hardships that women faced were heartbreaking. The ordeal of foot-binding is almost too difficult to read. A bright spot for some girls happened when they were paired with laotongs in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. They share many major life events, marriage, the birth of children, and death. Ultimately it is Lily who fails Snow Flower with her lack of understanding and compassion. In the end it is guilt that becomes Lily’s constant companion.