Rating:

Reviewed by Colleen Turner

Sandy Portman is rich, handsome, charismatic and incredibly pompous. He has gone through life with ease and, when faced with adversity or discomfort, has talked or bought his way out. The spark he had felt for his wife, Emily, has dwindled; he is on his way to pick her up from her volunteer job at a vet’s clinic, take her out to dinner and announce that he wants a divorce.

Outside the clinic he is involved in an accident and finds himself beside his body, greeted by a “triage specialist” who gives him a choice: fade into nothing or agree to help Emily cope after his death. Reluctantly, Sandy agrees to the man’s terms and is unpleasantly surprised when he wakes up in the body of Einstein, an old dog.

At the same time that Sandy is fighting his new life as a mangy canine, Emily is doing everything she can to keep her safe, orderly life from falling apart. Within a short span of time, she has lost the husband she loved, has learned that her in-laws are reclaiming the beautiful apartment in the famed New York City Dakota building that Sandy promised to her and that her job as a senior editor at a publishing house has begun spinning out of control. She brings Einstein home and steadily proceeds to fall apart. The break down seems to reach its zenith when she discovers that her perfect life with Sandy was very far from it.

While both Emily and Einstein work through their current issues they are also forced to look at who they are and how the choices they have made have led them to this place in time. Both begin to explore and resolve their familial issues and to discover what is really important in life. Sandy finally learns that, while he didn’t give Emily the love and support he should have while alive, he can make sure she has the confidence and strength she needs now that he is gone. Emily learns that what makes life perfect isn’t detailing it out on a spreadsheet and turning a blind eye to what doesn’t seem to fit but actually embracing the chaos and working it into the life she, and she alone, wants.

When I first read that Sandy inhabited the dog Einstein and was going to help Emily move on, I thought the book could only get worse. I was so wrong. In Emily and Einstein, Linda Francis Lee has found a way to not only merge the mystical and ordinary but to meld family conflict, love, death and redemption into one neat little package. The only negative I found was that, at times, it seemed as if the author was trying a little too hard to make Sandy seem completely self-centered and devoid of a natural ability for affection. This withstanding, the book is truly magical and will keep you entertained to the very end.

Rating: 4.5/5

This book was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.