Emily and Einstein

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When Emily's husband dies and she's threatened with eviction, comfort comes in the form of a wacky dog named Einstein.

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Emily & Einstein: A Novel of Second Chances

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When Emily's husband dies and she's threatened with eviction, comfort comes in the form of a wacky dog named Einstein.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lee (The Devil in Junior League) returns with a quick yet extremely predictable story of betrayal and atonement. Sandy Portman and Emily Barlow seem to lead a perfect life. Sandy is a successful businessman from an old-money family, and Emily, beautiful and smart, is quickly gaining respect in her career as a book editor. But Sandy is keeping a few secrets from Emily, and is hit by a car and killed before he has a chance to reveal the truth. In a Dickensian turn of events, he's given an otherworldly chance to make amends as a dog named Einstein. Emily adopts Einstein and he bears witness as she discovers Sandy's former duplicity, causing her life to fall apart and leaving Einstein to figure out how to save her so that he can save himself. These turns of events also reveal the novel's most frustrating aspect: an utter lack of surprise. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"A rare book of emotional depth and observation.... An utter triumph all the way around, simply spectacular!" —J. R. Ward, author of Lover Mine
#1 New York Times bestselling author of Lover Mine J. R. Ward

A rare book of emotional depth and observation by a master who holds you by the heartstrings on every page. An utter triumph.
bestselling author of The Big Love Sarah Dunn

Powerful and perceptive, Emily & Einstein is an unconventional love story, one of those rare books that illuminates the secrets we keep from the world . . . and sometimes ourselves. This is a heartfelt novel of hope, redemption, and second chances.
Affaire de Coeur (4.5 stars)

A really emotional and wonderful book.
New York Times bestselling author of Shattered Joan Johnston

An extraordinary treat, a powerfully original novel about hope, redemption, and the possibility that love lives forever, written with grace and imagination. A gem that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
award-winning author of Yankee Doodle Dixie Lisa Patton

Emily & Einstein captured me from the first sentence. You'll find yourself glued to the couch and canceling your plans to find out Emily Portman's fate. Linda Francis Lee tells a story that leaves you begging for more. I loved it!
Library Journal
Sandy Portman, a wealthy New Yorker who attracts women like bees to flowers, marries naive and optimistic Emily, a young editor. Sandy becomes bored with Emily, but he is killed while crossing the street on his way to ask her for a divorce. He then returns miraculously as an ugly mutt, Einstein, to try to find his way to redemption. There is humor here, but there is also sadness and regret. Of course there is a romance, but it is secondary to the character study that takes place. Sandy as Einstein must understand himself and become a "true man," while Emily must find the real Emily under the false self she thought she should be. VERDICT Transcending her previous romance novels (The Ex-Debutante; The Devil in the Junior League), Lee's latest work is about transformation and the attempt to really understand oneself. You can laugh, cry, and believe in second chances. Recommend to those who enjoy Elizabeth Berg or Kristin Hannah. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/10.]—Susan Hayes, Chattahoochee Valley Libs., Columbus, GA
Kirkus Reviews

A romantic tale about a cheating husband who gets to redeem himself by returning to earth as his widowed wife's new dog.

On the way to tell his doting wife Emily he wants a divorce, Sandy Portman is killed in a car accident. A dapper old man is ready to usher Sandy away to the great unknown (in Sandy's case it might be oblivion) but instead allows him to make things right for Emily and puts Sandy into the body of a dog, who ends up at the shelter where Emily volunteers. Soon Sandy, now named Einstein, is back at their apartment at the famed Dakota, feeling right at home. The novel, alternating between Emily and Einstein, follows the two on their journeys to become the people (ahem) they are meant to be. Emily is crushed by Sandy's death, made worse when she finds his journals, which outline the details of his affairs. And to further ruin Emily, her imperious mother-in-law informs her that she must leave the apartment at once—Sandy had never deeded it to her as he had promised. After getting accustomed to life as a dog, Einstein must make everything right, no easy task when all you have to work with are paws and a bark. As Einstein finds ways to keep Emily at their apartment, Emily has to contend with her flighty sister Jordan, who's temporarily moved in and is writing a memoir about their mother, a notorious figure in the women's movement. The publishing house Emily works for is buying the book, but now Emily's career may be on the line as Jordan doesn't seem to be doing any writing, just bringing strange men home in the middle of the night. And then there's gentle, handsome, ex–Navy Seal Max, who lives next door and is always there to pick Emily up when she falls. In the end, though, it is a love story between Emily and Einstein (she suspects it is Sandy underneath the scruff).

A comic charmer of surprising depth.

The Barnes & Noble Review

Emily and Einstein is a novel that dances between genres: women's fiction, magical realism, romance, dog lovers' fiction (surely its own genre by now). The novel doesn't fit into any neat package, and Linda Francis Lee employs these incongruities, including a paranormal flourish, to deepen her story's emotional punch.

The titular Emily is a book editor, happily married to her husband Sandy -- until he dies, and she finds out that he was a serial cheater whose family immediately starts eviction proceedings against her. She's furious, heartbroken, and humiliated. In time, she realizes that Sandy was a charming, self-destructive man with big ambitions and no follow-through. He wanted to run the New York marathon; he never managed. He wanted to be a rower, a basketball player, an honorable husband. He failed, and failed again. Being rich and beautiful has a way of shielding a man from his own failures. As Emily finally understands, her husband "was a man used to getting his way without having to bargain or even ask."

But Emily and Einstein is not a simple novel about marital betrayal. Emily was stubbornly blind to the reality of her marriage: as she says, she "was never good at sensing trouble." Sandy lied to her from the very beginning, yet she forgave him. She deliberately didn't see her marriage, her husband, her life: she loved a man who didn't exist. She created a phantom husband, a paranormal partner.

And here's where the fascinating magic aspect of the novel comes in: Lee gives Emily's scruffy little rescue dog the soul of a man: to be exactly, Sandy's soul. Wasn't it Pythagoras who believed that a good friend was reincarnated as a dog? It sounds complicated and weird, but Lee presents animal re-embodiment as a one-time occurrence (no need to eye your dog for resemblances to your dislikable, dead ex).

Sandy-as-Einstein is a scruffy, sarcastic, and funny dog who finds it hard to come to terms with the fact he was a rabid little mutt as a human. And Emily has her own learning to do: she needs to understand that she is an expert at avoiding truths that stare her right in the face. Any of us who have avoided a powerful, painful truth know the utter conviction of denial. But this plot really hinges on one question: can Emily recognize Sandy-as-Einstein -- a truly impossible truth? Lee turns what could be a simple redemptive tale, in which Emily gets over her faithless former husband and meets a lovely guy named Max, into a real challenge: can Emily accept a truth that her commonsense tells her cannot be true?

I loved the use Emily and Einstein makes of its fantastic premise: the way that a touch of magic and humor makes deep sorrow and painful secrets more visible. With a nod to Pythagoras, Lee will have you believing in miracles and second chances -- and you might even find yourself eyeing the family pet in a new light.

--Eloisa James

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452600352
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Actor and musician Dan John Miller is an award-winning audiobook narrator, having garnered multiple Audie Award nominations and one win, twice been named a Best Voice by AudioFile magazine, and received several AudioFile Golden Earphones Awards and a Listen-Up Award from Publishers Weekly.

Cassandra Campbell has recorded nearly two hundred audiobooks and directed many more. She has been nominated for and won multiple Audie Awards, as well as a prestigious Odyssey Award, and she has been awarded more than twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards. Cassandra was also named a Best Voice by AudioFile for 2009 and 2010.

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Read an Excerpt


A week passed before I understood the enormity of my situation, a week before I realized I was dead.

It was February, a bitter cold day in New York with a gunmetal sky, the kind of storm blowing in that would make even the most stoic northeasterner dream of sun, sand, and a beach that stretched on forever. Wearing a heavy wool suit, silk tie, and overcoat, I walked into my office on the thirty- fourth floor, the view of lower Manhattan blocked out by the falling snow. My secretary was on the phone, her sharp Brooklyn accent and polyester clothes at odds with the old- world, fine wood surroundings of the reception area. She snapped at the caller, something about having to go through her to get to me— the very reason I employed the no- nonsense older woman who wasn’t afraid of anyone.

She banged down the phone with a huff. “Pushy, pushy, pushy.”

I struggled not to smile.

When she saw me, she didn’t so much as blink. “Mr. Portman, there you are.” She handed over a stack of memos, giving me a brief, rapid- fire rundown of who had called. “And your mother stopped by earlier, said she needs to see you.”

My mother, the demanding, if beautiful, Althea Portman, had a tendency to think my sole job should be dealing with her.

Without a hitch in my step, glancing through the stack as I went, I didn’t bother to look up. “If she stops by again, tell her I quit. Tell her I got fired. Or better yet, tell her I’ve moved to Mongolia or the Australian Outback, someplace far away that with any luck isn’t reachable by phone.”

“Now, now, that’s just plain mean. She’s your mother.”

“Mrs. Carmichael, my mother requires mean.” I kept going, mentally itemizing which of the memos required my attention. “In fact, a woman like my mother demands mean.”

“For a man who can’t be more than, what, thirty- five, forty,” she called after me, “you sure are cantankerous.”

Just before I shut the door to my office, I glanced back, and this time I did smile.

“Cantankerous? Me?”

She scoffed and turned away, though not before I caught a glimpse of her own amused smile.

“I’ll need a car to take me uptown at seven,” I told her.

With that, I tossed the stack of memos in the trash and shut the door.


An hour later I left my office at the Regal Bay investment firm. I was due to meet my wife at the Upper West Side Animal Clinic where she volunteered every Friday after work.

The first time I saw Emily I would have sworn she was born and bred in some place like Minneapolis or Milwaukee. It turned out she grew up in Manhattan, raised by a woman I’d had the good fortune never to meet. In her day, Lillian Barlow had been a noted and unfortunately vocal feminist, a woman who had taken a hard stand against what she called That pack of misogynist men whose goal in life was to oppress women.

One, I think her stance a sweeping generalization, not to mention melodramatic.

And two, given her stance, how a woman who had burned bras and been arrested for protesting the Vietnam War raised a daughter as open and trusting as Emily was anyone’s guess. How I ended up marrying the woman’s daughter was an even bigger mystery. But when Emily and I met nearly four years earlier, I was on the backside of a skiing mishap that had left me with a shattered leg that surgeons had reassembled with screws and metal pins.

This shouldn’t have hit me as hard as it did, but what can I say? For years I had wanted to run the New York City Marathon. I had dreamed of it. In some ways, I had counted on it.

After my leg ended up on the wrong end of my unfortunate fall, I was told that my days of training for anything that put significant strain on the leg, much less running the marathon, were over.

All this to say that in my own moment of spectacularly self- indulgent melodrama, when I met Emily I’d just had my first taste of mortality along with an overlarge serving of hunger to be something more than the man I was.

Of course Emily didn’t know any of that. The day I met her I was sitting in a conference room of the book publishing house, Caldecote Press, surrounded by the president, publisher, an editor, a lawyer, and Regal Bay’s own consigliore who scared even me— and I didn’t scare easily. We were there about a sticky issue regarding an upcoming book the publisher had on its fall list. Namely, a book about Regal Bay and some of its allegedly questionable activities. Victor Harken and I were there to make sure the book never saw the light of day. Rather than go the legal route from the onset, Victor wanted first to try and “convince” the publisher to see things our way.

Just before we began the meeting, Emily blew into the room like she was immortal, her long blond hair flowing behind her like a flag. She was delicate, not very tall, but somehow her presence filled the room. I had been half listening to Victor make small talk, but the minute I saw Emily everything else fell away.

Good news, bad news, depending on your point of view, I was nothing if not a connoisseur of women, and everything about Emily seemed a contradiction. She was as beautiful as any of the models I dated, her white blond hair long and loose, her eyes like an indigo sea. But combined with that intensity of energy and color, she wore a simple cream dress that hit barely above her knees. Not blue to highlight her eyes, or short to show off her amazing legs— like adding a constant in algebra to offset an equation. Though in math, the point is to solve for X. Emily seemed impossible to solve. I was intrigued.

“Ah, Emily,” the president said. “I was hoping you could join us.”

Introductions were made and I gathered that while Emily was relatively new to the company she had already developed a reputation for problem solving. That the president thought she could solve anything with Victor Harken made me smile. Though when I think back on it now, I realize that despite the contradiction of her, or maybe because of it, everything in the room shifted the minute she blew through the door.

When Victor gestured toward me, and said, “This is—” I cut him off. “Sandy Portman,”

I offered with a wry smile. “Just another cog in the corporate machine.”

Victor looked at me as if I had lost my mind, which perhaps I had. In actuality I was Alexander “Sandy” Vandermeer Regal Portman, a direct descendent of both the Vandermeer and Regal families, founders of Regal Bay, one of Wall Street’s oldest and most prestigious investment firms. Whether it was Emily’s counterbalanced elegance, or the easy confidence of someone who felt no need to impress, I’m not sure. All I knew was that for the first time in my life I didn’t want someone to know who I really was. We started in on the issue, Victor doing his best to intimidate and threaten, the president looking like he was concerned he’d end up with a horse head in his bed. But the women in the room hardly paid attention to Victor. They eyed me surreptitiously, weighing their possibilities, assessing. At least all the women did except Emily who didn’t seem to notice me at all.

No question I wasn’t used to disinterest, but it seemed more than that. Watching her, she seemed aware only of whoever was talking, as if she were listening in a way that most people never did.

When every idea and possibility had been suggested then discarded as not working for one or the other side, the president glanced over at her. “Emily, what do you think?”

She considered for a second, then turned to Victor like some blue- eyed David doing battle with a Bronx- born Goliath. “I’m not sure I understand what the problem is. No question you have the resources to tie Caldecote up with lawsuit paperwork for months if not longer, but eventually what ever you’re trying to hide is going to come out.” She tsked at Victor like he was a schoolyard bully getting caught playing rough on the playground. I doubted Victor had ever been tsked at in his life.

“So how about a compromise?” she added, then shot him a dazzling smile.

She was either crazy or fearless. Maybe both. I knew with a fair degree of certainty that while Victor hadn’t put a horse head in anyone’s bed, he was known for his unorthodox means of getting what he wanted. My great- uncle Silas Regal employed him for that very reason. But the consigliore was as caught off guard by the young woman as I was as she made her case with passion and an idealistic conviction that she and her little publisher would win.

“Either way,” she went on, “the fact is that while you’re tying us up with legal documents, both Regal Bay and Caldecote are going to end up in publishing eNewsletters, financial blogs, even traditional press. Good for us. Bad for you.” She shrugged and grimaced as if she were actually sorry.

Victor couldn’t seem to speak. I nearly laughed.

By the time Emily finished laying out her plan, Victor had agreed that not only would we not “waste money pursuing futile legal action” but we would give the lowlife business- journalist- turned- author access to Regal Bay higher- ups, as Emily put it, “to tell their side of the story.”

Great- uncle Silas was going to have Victor’s head. I would have been amused but just then Emily looked at me, finally, and everything changed. The world slowed as she studied me for what seemed like forever, then she smiled. As crazy as it sounds, sitting there with her smiling at me, I felt as if I could achieve anything. In her eyes I saw the man I had the potential to be reflected back. Broken legs and shattered dreams were forgotten and I had the distinct thought that she could make me whole. The feeling was deep and primal, as unsettling as it was nearly godly.

I decided then and there that I would have her.


It is a well- documented fact that most males of the species long to be great. Isn’t that why we admire superheroes when we are boys and moguls when we are men?

I was no different.

When I was young I wanted to be a basketball player, but while no one would accuse me of being short, I didn’t have the tall, lean build of a real player. If I was destined to sit on the bench, why bother? A few years later, I decided on rowing. I was smart and strong, and was being groomed by my prep school coach for the important position of stroke. But after a few months of trudging uptown to practice, I decided rowing was more trouble than it was worth.

Later, during college, I decided to be an artist, someone great like Picasso or Salvador Dali, larger- than- life men with voracious appetites. But this time my mother, a woman known as a great purveyor of all things art, said Portmans sponsored artists; we didn’t become them.

What most people didn’t know, or perhaps didn’t remember, was that my mother hadn’t always been a wealthy patron of the arts. The truth was, Althea Portman was an enigma to most people who knew her, a puzzle people had tried to piece together for years. But eventually the questions had been forgotten, and I knew my mother intended for it to stay that way. I rarely gave it any thought; the disconnected pieces of her were something I took in stride.

Though every once in a while our eyes would meet and I could see the question. Do you remember, I knew she wanted to ask.

But I was no fool. I always turned away, as did she, the question left hanging in the air, unspoken.

Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t one to hold her tongue on much of anything else, and on that unfortunate snowy February night that I left my office at Regal Bay, the night it all began, she and I had exchanged words. This time about my wife. Frustrated in a way that only my mother could make me, I sat in the back of a Mercedes sedan, one of the firm’s hired drivers taking me up Eighth Avenue in the swirling sleet and snow to meet Emily.

The drive took forever, the five lanes of traffic a sea of cabs, hired sedans, and people in SUVs from New Jersey heading north, the snowy street lined by the remnants of less glamorous Manhattan real estate now being encroached upon by the gleaming glass and steel of the midtown business district. An hour after leaving the firm, we finally arrived at the animal clinic on West Seventy- sixth, the narrow length lined with parked cars. The driver double- parked across the street, behind a utility van. When I didn’t immediately get out, he glanced at me over the seat back. “Isn’t this the address you gave me, sir?”

“Yes, yes. It is.”

Generally I wasn’t a distracted person, but that night I felt something I didn’t understand. I wrote it off as simple frustration after a long, snowy drive. I realize now that it was more than that, something more complex, less defined, a defiant and callous posturing in front of . . . what, the gods? What ever the case, I was charging forward, full speed ahead, to my own undoing. And Emily’s.

I got out of the car and buttoned my overcoat against the elements. Stepping around the front of the Mercedes, I was startled by a little wiry white- furred dog that leapt out and stood as if intentionally blocking my way. I tried to step around him but slipped on a patch of ice.

Steadying myself on the hood of the car, I shooed the dog away and kept going, snow and sleet coming down harder, the wind blowing, ice hitting my face. When I got to the right front edge of the Mercedes, a car turned onto the street, its headlights bouncing as the tires hit ruts in the freezing slush.

As the car roared closer, I saw that it was a taxi driven by someone who had lost all concern for the perils of driving in the snow. I took a step back, irritated that the cabbie planned to hurtle through the narrow space between the double- parked cars. Then just before the cab reached the Mercedes it happened. The little white dog reappeared and stepped into the street.

The cab driver hit the brakes and swerved, fishtailing back and forth, sliding this way, overcorrecting that way, until the yellow taxi careened into the back of the Mercedes.

The thick, falling snow muffled the crash, making the impact feel less destructive.

Then silence. There was a moment when I was certain I could hear the snow falling, feel a strange sort of peace.

All in all, the accident wouldn’t have caused too much of a problem if I hadn’t been standing at the front of one vehicle and an unfortunate five or so feet behind another. Something about thrust and velocity, mixed with angle of trajectory, even over relatively slow speeds and short distances, can make for a very dangerous combination. The long and short being that the cab hit the back of the Mercedes, jamming it forward into me, thrusting me down with such velocity and at such an angle that I crashed over like a domino, no time to break my fall. My head slammed against the fender of the van, traumatizing my brain so intensely and fracturing my spine so deeply that there was never a chance to recover. In seconds I was standing next to my body, no longer cold, merely stunned that the mess on the ground was actually me.

I watched in stunned paralysis as the driver dialed 911, tried to resuscitate my body, then called his dispatch who called the firm. No one called my wife.

I had never been one to panic, though I had never stood on a snowy street before watching someone work to revive my body. But when I tried to move and couldn’t, panic spiked through me. I gasped for air, but couldn’t do that either.

They say that when your life hangs in the balance, your past fl ashes before you. But it wasn’t friends or events from my childhood I remembered. I didn’t think of my parents.

I only thought of one thing.


Her name burst out of me, burst out of my mind, as if somehow she could fix this, could solve this problem. But there was no sound, nothing, as if nothing of substance was left of me to save.

I hadn’t known Emily for more than a week the first time I pulled her close. With our lips nearly touching, I whispered, “Fall in love with me. I dare you.”

She did fall for me, though since then I have wondered if it was the dare that set me up to fall.


My mother used to tell me that life could change in an instant, a line drawn in the

 sand separating before from after, altering you completely. Was that really true?

Could a person be changed in an instant? Or did a crack already have to exist

in the ice, the beginnings of a change we simply refused to see?

—excerpt from My Mother’s Daughter

chapter one

Everyone has a story but I was never interested in telling my own. I was an editor of books, not a writer. I loved to find sense in someone else’s chaos, uncover the intent of a sentence or paragraph that only hinted at a truth. At least that was how I felt until I met Sandy Portman. The first time I saw him my world tilted. Ridiculous, I know, but seeing him that first time jarred me so deeply that I had to turn away, like turning away from looking directly at the sun, and pretend I hadn’t noticed him at all.

It had nothing to do with the fact that he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. His face was a strike against him. I fell in love because there was something in his eyes that was at odds with his physical beauty. Sandy Portman drew me in, like the draft of a manuscript where perfectly constructed sentences hinted at but didn’t yet reveal a deeper truth. And when he pulled me close and smiled at me the first time, a crooked smile on his perfect face, hinting at a bit more of his truth? Well, I was lost.


My name is Emily Barlow, and I had never been good at sensing trouble. I didn’t need to be. I made lists, mapped out plans, then moved forward with a calm certainty that everything would work out. Unshakable faith. Bone-deep belief. Call it what you will. I stepped into any situation with the calm conviction that no matter what, I would survive.

Perhaps that was my mistake. Then again, perhaps that’s what would save me.

That morning, the day everything began, I woke with what I now can only call a premonition that my world was about to shift. But I didn’t recognize the feeling for what it was. I ignored it.

It had been snowing all night, snow on top of snow during one of the worst winters New York City had seen in a decade. It was Friday, and when I got to work at Caldecote Press almost no one was there, kept away by the storm, safe in houses reached only through bridges and tunnels, or in apartments on the island of Manhattan that climbed up floor after floor into the mottled gray clouds until the buildings disappeared. At noon, I headed home. The animal clinic had closed due to the weather, and I tried calling Sandy to let him know I would meet him at the apartment. He didn’t answer, and his voice mail was full. I’d left a message with his secretary for him to call me, but I never heard back.

We lived in the Dakota, a hundred- and- twenty- year- old building on the Upper West Side, and when I got home I worked, first on a manuscript that had come in early, then on the guest room I had been redoing for several weeks. I had painted the walls a pale yellow, with white crown molding, and a border of lavender, green, and blue flowers that I was painting myself, each delicate stroke like a line of a psalm as I sat at the top of the ladder, the impossibly high ceilings seeming to reach up to God. For the last two years, I had put every extra cent I had into the apartment. While my husband had a great deal of money, I did not. But I gave that no thought, pouring my heart and soul into the old but enchanted residence that had been little more than a dusty museum when Sandy lived there alone.

I had ripped down ancient wallpaper, torn up broken bathroom tile, replaced outdated appliances, entwining myself in a place that represented everything I had been working toward my entire life. A home with a husband and children, Sunday dinners and friends. A life of work and family, the lines filled in with love, colored by years steadily passing. A life so different from the one I led with my mother where we moved from one apartment to the next, uptown, downtown, Alphabet City. We even did a stint in Chinatown, where plucked chickens and ducks hung in steamy shop windows like ornaments on a tree.

Over the years I learned to guard my heart, didn’t let myself become attached to people or places despite my dream of having both. But the day I met Sandy in the Caldecote conference room, something inside me opened up. As everyone was leaving the meeting, Sandy stopped me. He didn’t notice, or perhaps didn’t care about, the glances others gave us. He looked only at me, his lips hiking up at one corner, turning what would have been a wicked smile into something boyish and playful. “Come away with me,” he said. “Right now, before everyone gets wise to us and reminds me of schedules and broken legs and all the things you make me forget.”

I must have given him a strange look because his smile widened and he added, “At least let me take you someplace for a drink. Then you can tell me all about why you downplay your amazing looks, and I’ll tell you all the reasons why I’m falling for you.”

He startled me, but I didn’t show it. “Do lines like that really work in your world?”

He laughed out loud. “They do.” Then that smile again, this time bordering on sheepish, his hazel green eyes flashing. “Hard to believe, huh?”

My guess was that it wasn’t the lines that worked, but his looks, his easy charm. This was a man used to getting his way without having to bargain or even ask.

I smiled despite myself. “One, I have nothing to tell, and two, you don’t know half the reasons why I’m worth falling for.”

This time he was surprised, but he recovered quickly. “Then I’ll take notes; you can dictate. It will give me an excuse to keep you out all afternoon and turn a drink into dinner.”

I just shook my head and stepped around him. But at the door I turned back. “Dinner. After work. My choice of restaurant.”

He cocked his head. “Ever the negotiator. But fine, I’ll meet you in the lobby at seven.”

“Make it seven- thirty.” I started to leave.


I hesitated.

“Do you always win?”

My smile softened. “Does anyone?”

He studied me for a second, then told me I should have been named Diana after the Huntress or Helen after the woman from Troy. “Emily is too soft, too much like that boring cream dress you’re wearing. Neither does you justice.”

I raised a brow. “For someone who doesn’t know the first thing about me, you have a lot of opinions.”

What I didn’t say was that in every woman there is an Emily just as in every woman there’s a Helen of Troy. It depends on which part is nurtured. I’d had no choice but to be strong. And didn’t the hardness of strength come when the softness underneath was a threat?

I would have written him off as yet another good- looking guy who used his charm to get what he wanted. But then his brow furrowed. “On second thought, I bet there’s an Emily in there somewhere. You just keep her hidden.”

My breathing grew shallow. Somehow this seemingly all- surface guy understood.

He walked past me through the doorway, stopping just long enough to tuck a single errant strand of hair behind my ear. “See you at seven- thirty,” he said.


I had just finished putting the final touches on the painted border when my BlackBerry rang.

I clattered down the ladder, paintbrush still in hand, lavender paint splattered on the old shirt I wore to protect my clothes. When I glanced at the clock I was surprised to see how late it was. I’d have to hurry to get cleaned up before Sandy got home.

“Hello,” I said on the fourth ring.

But it wasn’t Sandy. It was Birdie Baleau, a woman who had recently moved to New York from Texas, and was like no New Yorker I had ever met. We had become fast friends almost instantly.

“Congratulations!” Birdie squealed on the phone, like we were still in middle school. “I just heard about your promotion to senior editor!” I fell into a chair and kicked my feet up on the desk as we talked and laughed, excited over this new phase in my career. When I got off the phone, I tried my husband again, but his voice mail was still full.

I showered, then poured myself a glass of wine, found my iPod and cranked up a crazy mix as I danced through the apartment. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys. Harry Nilsson’s “The Puppy Song.” Adam Lambert’s “No Boundaries.”

Then “Broken” by Life house.

I didn’t remember downloading the song to my playlist. But I closed my eyes and sang to the century- old walls, twirling, arms wide open, head thrown back. My life felt full, my career soaring, a simple happiness wrapping around me as if there could be no stopping me.

An hour later, Sandy still hadn’t shown up. I told myself there was no reason to worry. He had been late before. But another hour passed, then two, and still Sandy hadn’t called.

At some level had I known? Had I remembered the premonition, had I thought of the song, but refused to assign meaning to it? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that I danced and sang in my bright yellow room while snow came down outside the window like thick white curtains that blocked out the view.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Emily and Jordan are opposites; Jordan was their mother’s favorite, and Emily always knew this. Does your personality in some way balance or counter balance your sibling’s personality? Your parent’s? While being the less favorite child can be difficult, are there any advantages? Disadvantages to being the favorite?

2. Sandy Portman was a dog of a man while he was living, and he had to become a dog in order to learn how to be a true man. Do you agree with Sandy’s ultimate fate at the end of the book? Do you think Einstein/Sandy changes gradually over the course of book, or just in the end? How so?

3. Emily says: “[Althea], like my mother, gave up pieces of herself in an attempt to fit into a world that didn’t accept her as she was. . . .” Both Sandy’s and Emily’s mothers came of age during the birth of modern feminism, and each tried to lead a life that was true to who she wanted to be—ultimately paying a price for her choices. Do you feel women in this day and age can really have it all, dreams, work, and family? Do you think you see or saw your parents clearly, for who they are rather than who you want them to be?

4. Max is younger than Emily by a few years, but in many ways feels older. What made him wiser than his years? Compare Max and Sandy—how were they different? Similar? What did Emily see and need in both of them?

5. In many ways, it seems that Emily is more devastated about Sandy’s cheating than by his death. Why is this? Do you think it’s true to how people feel? How did Einstein help Emily recover from both—Sandy’s death and his cheating—indifferent ways?

6. When Emily was a child, she almost drowned in the ocean, but was washed up on the beach at the last moment; she wondered then if God had looked inside her and considered her “worth saving.” The idea of saving others or being saved is an important part of Emily and Sandy/Einstein’s stories; Sandy feels that Emily saved him when he first met her and then she saves him again from being killed as a dog. Discuss what saving or rescuing means for these characters. How does it play into and define each of their lives? Do you feel that you’ve ever been rescued? Or rescued someone?

7. Emily thought she knew her husband, Sandy, but didn’t fully. Do you feel it’s possible to truly know a spouse or significant other? Do you think you know yours? Does he or she ever surprise you? Tell you a story about their past that you didn’t realize had occurred?

8. Second chances are an important theme in Emily and Einstein; each character goes through a transformation of some sort, and feels the need for a new start. Describe these moments for each of them. If you were given a chance to look back on your life and do something over, would you? What might you notice about yourself and your choices that you wouldn’t otherwise?

9. Emily runs the New York City marathon in order to find herself after the shock of losing her husband—and to honor Sandy. How is this decision representative of her story as a whole? Do you think it’s possible to truly shake the past free or come to terms with it in order to move forward? Have you ever done something drastic, like run a marathon, with the same goal in mind?

10. Consider Einstein’s line toward the end: “I had wanted to punish her for going for what she wanted regardless of the cost to herself.” He says that he was jealous of her faith in something beyond what he could see. What do you think this means? How does it fit into the larger themes of the book? Do you think this difference of perception might be the reason Sandy and Emily were together, or the reason their relationship failed—or both?

11. Do you think that Emily makes the right career decision at the end of the book? Why or why not?

12. “Home” plays a central role in this story—ideas of the perfect home, the homes we make for ourselves, or the ones we’re given. What do you think “home” means to Emily? To Sandy? To Jordan? Do their different needs or opinions clash? What does “home” mean to you?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 158 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 158 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very well written and beautifully paced!

    Review by Kate:
    For some reason, I have been putting off reviewing this book that I have given 5 stars! I actually would love to be able to sit down and read it again, it was so good, with a good message, too (see favorite quotes below). However, writing a review for this story would give it away, I think. If you have read any of the other reviews, you will know what happens (but I won't be the one to tell you!).

    I loved Linda Francis Lee's Devil in the Junior League and found it hilarious! This story, however, is a little bit different. It is more poignant, a little sadder, but with a happy ending. Emily is widowed only after four years of marriage. She is devastated, as she thought she had the perfect marriage. However, it turned out the night that her husband was killed in a freak accident on the streets of New York, that he was on his way to divorce her. Emily had no idea that the situation was at this point.the separation.

    In her grief, she rescues a dog whom she calls Einstein. There are some very funny antics with Einstein (like the box of Lucky Charms), plus Einstein has issues of his own. He is trying to make sure that Emily moves on in her life, but it is rather difficult for him to do as he is in a dog's body.

    Emily works in publishing and has an immediate supervisor who is out only for herself, to include taking credit for Emily's latest find in the book world. Throw on top of this Emily's younger, and flighty, sister who comes to stay with Emily after her husband dies. Her sister needs money, so she tries to convince Emily to buy her book that she is writing on their 'famous' mother, Lillian Barlow, a feminist.

    Emily is doing all she can to hold her life together. She is trying not to get sacked at work when they bring in a new president who is known for turning failing businesses around. She is trying to keep her apartment that her husband promised her, but has to fit his mother and lawyer to try to keep it. Emily is also trying to figure out what to do with her younger sister, who seems to want to do anything but write the book she proposed in the first place. Did I mention the hot Navy SEAL who lives upstairs?

    This is a story of loss, finding oneself, helping others, a snobbish dog with weird tastes in music, and running a marathon. It was very well written and beautifully paced. There are several twists to the story, as it is written alternately from Emily's and Einstein's view point. Read it, before it's too late! Read it, and learn their story!

    Quote: "It is regret that kills, the 'if onlys' that leave the mortal wounds.

    In order to live a life truly worth living you had to have strength in the face of adversity, patience when confronted with challenge, and bravery in the face of fear."

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 4, 2013

    Dog books automatically start with 3 stars for me!  Having said

    Dog books automatically start with 3 stars for me!  Having said that, this book was different from others I have read that included chapters written by "the dog".   It is a story of courage, family, tenacity, faith in oneself as well as others, facing your demons, forgiveness and understanding that "it is regret that kills, the 'if onlys' that leave the mortal wounds'.  I loved the premise of this book, the style in which it was written - chapters from a deceased husband,  his young widow, and the dog.  In the end, I added two stars to my rating because this book touched me in many ways, making me laugh, nod with understanding and cry like a child with both pain and joy.  This is the first book I have read by this author but am for sure going to check out others. 

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    If you are looking for something different....

    Quirky little book. I enjoyed it very much. Enjoyable light read. I recommend it!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Redemption and Second Chances

    I didn't know what to expect when I bought this book. What I found was a good story about the need for redemption and second chances. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and all of their flaws. The story itself requires a little leap of faith, but it's one you're willing to make to see how the characters evolve. This is an enjoyable read that I would recommend to any book lovers looking to get lost in a good book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Calling all dog lovers!

    Absolutely loved this book. It was cute! Quick read and I love how the author tells the story from both Emily and einsteins side in different sections. Adorable! And a true story about second chances. I was crying at the end. Maybe because i can relate to the loss of a lover and pet. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    Cute cover, heartwarming story. Wasn't sure what to expect but I really enjoyed it. A relaxing read that kept me interested with unexpected twists and turns. Recommend for book clubs, there are plenty of issues that could be discussed. Be sure to have a tissue handy for the ending.
    For sensitive readers: the gratuitous sex marred this a little for me. Note: This book was provided through the GoodReads First Read program with the expectation of an honest review. My opinions are my own.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2011

    Great book of second chances!

    This one definitely deserves 4.5 stars. I received an arc of 'Emily and Einstein' from Librarything. This is a wonderful novel of second chances. The main characters are Emily, her husband Sandy and Einstein. I love dog stories and Einstein is one special dog. The book is released on 3/1 and I highly recommend reading it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2014

    Harriet klausner and plot spoilers

    Too many plot spoilers here and of course the ever present harriet klausner with her cliff note book report ruining the book. Please bn, stop these plot spoilers from ruining these books. That being said this is just a rewrite of the movie Fluke where the man died and came back as a dog. Its almost word for word like the movie.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2013

    Loved It!

    I read this book in a day. It was such a cute story and I had to find out what happened. It was such an easy book to read and get lost in.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013


    This book begins like so many others, man and woman in love, with some kind of unknown undercurrent. Ho-hum. But then, first plot twist, man is killed in terrible accident. How he finds himself in the body of scruffy dog named Einstein, loving cared for by his widow is a page turner for those who enjoy being able to suspend reality and savor a bit of romance. This book was chosen by our book club and was considered a winner by all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2013

    If it were possible to rate more than 5 stars this is the book t

    If it were possible to rate more than 5 stars this is the book that deserves it.  Normally I wouldn't have even thought about reading this book, but after reading a few posts on it decided to read it.   Loved every minute of  reading this book.
    Emily is at a loss, her husband was killed in an accident, her in-laws are trying to evict her and her job is in jeopardy unless she can get her act together.  She ends up adopting Einstein  from the shelter she volunteers at.   Even though she had not intentions of adopting Einstein  but finding out that his is scheduled to be put down since he wasn't adopted out Emily just knows she has to take him home with her.
    Sandy is killed in an accident.  He is given a second chance, a second chance to prove he can achieve greatness.  Imagine his surprise when he wakes up in the body of a dog Einstein and ends up being adopting by his wife.   His second chance comes with conditions he has to help his wife.  How to do this in a dog's body?
    This book in written in the point of views from Emily and Einstein/Sandy.   It's a roller coaster of emotions, funny, heartwarming, thought provoking.  It's a book you will be happy you have read

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    LOVE IT!!!!!!

    This book was an amazing read. It captivated me more and more with each page! It had me laughing at Einstein's baser doggie instincts and crying with heartbreak for Emily in her rougher moments. I 100% recommend this book for anyone who wants a good read to curl up on the couch with or anywhere for that matter. It's a story of heartbreak, new love, realizing and living your dreams, and strength through gritty rough times. Definitely read this book. You will not be sorry. Unless you don't read it in which case your missing out big time!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2012

    Funny and sad.

    A husband realizes how much he hurt his wife and has to change her sad and worthless feelings to be able to move on to his next phase.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2012

    Rather Juvenile

    I thought the concept was OK - not great but "interesting". However, the writing seemed as though it came from the pen (OK - computer) of a young, inexperienced writer. I kept reading, though I'm not sure why. If you're looking for something very LITE, this would be one for you.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Beautiful novel

    A touching story about second chances, family, &discovering who we really are & what we cherish. Wonderfully written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2011

    Great Read! You have to read this book.

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend this to anyone who like an easy read that is entertaining. Wonderful message to think about.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    A unique and powerfully moving must read!

    Emily And Einstein is a powerfully moving and emotional journey into self-awareness, new found love and second chances. I was captivated at the prologue and could not put the book down. I applaud Linda Francis Lee. Emily and Einstein a brilliantly written and unique story like no other with many unexpected surprises... I found myself moved to tears in one moment and laughing in next. This is one book that will touch your heart and stay with you long after finishing it. I highly recommend it as a must read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    Prepare to be inspired

    This is a smart, funny, and wise book. My words will only sell it short. For mothers, daughters, lovers and friends to read and share. If you have ever shared your life with a dog, you may begin to wonder about their keen insights into you. The characters are real, flawed and relative. This story is so personal you may forget it is fiction. You will want to hold those you love, including your pets, a little closer. Prepare to be inspired!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2015

    Just don't like the style of alternating chapters between the tw

    Just don't like the style of alternating chapters between the two main characters, but will look for more of Ms Lee's books.  The story line was intriguing, just don't like the style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2015

    Great book. I loved the dog's point of view. First time reading

    Great book. I loved the dog's point of view. First time reading this author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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