With this collection of letters Ian Stewart, accomplished mathematician, science writer, and even science fiction writer, accompanies a young and imaginary student on her path to becoming a professional mathematician. The letters address the questions that arise naturally at the crucial points in "Meg's" career, from leaving school and pondering whether to take a maths degree, through to becoming a fully established mathematician wondering how to juggle teaching and research.
An unnamed girl in an unnamed, but contemporary, European city enters a rather gloomy old building, reading its address from a crumpled piece of paper. Inside, being given preference over a dozen people sitting in a waiting room, she is ushered into the office of Albert Einstein. "You said that time doesn't exist, so I took the liberty of coming to see you," she says. "You did the right thing," he replies. Thus a conversation ensues that spans all the 176 pages of this book.