The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood

Today’s book recommendation is perfect for fans of historical fiction based on real-life history or characters. Tracey Enerson Wood’s The Engineer’s Wife was a wonderfully engaging, well-researched story of the wife of the engineer who designed and started the build the Brooklyn Bridge until he falls ill and she must take over the construction.

NetGalley provided me with a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own!

The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson WoodThe Engineer's Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood
on April 7, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary, Women
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle, Hardback
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She built a monument for all time. Then she was lost in its shadow. Discover the fascinating woman who helped design and construct an American icon, perfect for readers of The Other Einstein.

Emily Warren Roebling refuses to live conventionally--she knows who she is and what she wants, and she's determined to make change. But then her husband Wash asks the unthinkable: give up her dreams to make his possible.

Emily's fight for women's suffrage is put on hold, and her life transformed when Wash, the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, is injured on the job. Untrained for the task, but under his guidance, she assumes his role, despite stern resistance and overwhelming obstacles. Lines blur as Wash's vision becomes her own, and when he is unable to return to the job, Emily is consumed by it. But as the project takes shape under Emily's direction, she wonders whose legacy she is building--hers, or her husband's. As the monument rises, Emily's marriage, principles, and identity threaten to collapse. When the bridge finally stands finished, will she recognize the woman who built it?

Based on the true story of the Brooklyn Bridge, The Engineer's Wife delivers an emotional portrait of a woman transformed by a project of unfathomable scale, which takes her into the bowels of the East River, suffragette riots, the halls of Manhattan's elite, and the heady, freewheeling temptations of P.T. Barnum. It's the story of a husband and wife determined to build something that lasts--even at the risk of losing each other.

four-stars

Review of The Engineer’s Wife

The Engineer’s Wife follows the trials the both Captain Washington ‘Wash’ Roebling and his wife, Emily Warren Roebling, face. Professionally, Wash suffers decompression sickness from his work on the bridge and as Emily steps in to take over for him. On a more personal level, the illness and his passion, which becomes hers (in a way) put a strain on her marriage.

Adding to the strain is her unconventional friendship (?) with PT Barnum. (I confess, this was the part of the story where it went off the rails a bit for me.)

Emily is a bright, inquisitive woman who quickly takes over Wash’s roles. The current norms of the time look upon this decision as very unacceptable. She makes waves in the community while proving herself more than capable. She was brazen, passionate, and a risk-taker – and she made for one fascinating character! The author does an excellent job of developing her character.

In all, character development was a strong point in this novel. PT Barnum was an unexpectedly complex character. Her husband Wash was, as well, although later in the book his character becomes quite infuriating. In a way, the Brooklyn Bridge herself becomes another character in this book.

The author also does an excellent job of conveying what had to have been a very technical and complicated language of the bridge-building process. I knew very little about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, and nothing about Emily Roebling’s hand in it, so I’m always pleased to finish a book knowing a little more about history than I did previously. In this aspect, I was not disappointed, either.

Overall, this was an engaging, fascinating book with plenty of detail and character development. I highly recommend this book for fans of historical fiction and strong female characters. The Engineer’s Wife earns a solid 4 stars from me!

If this novel sounds interesting, you might also like THE HOLLOWS by Jess Montgomery

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