Book Review

The Engineer’s Wife

The Engineer’s Wife

Tracey Enerson Wood

Sourcebooks Landmark, Apr 2020

352 pages

General Fiction, Women’s Stories, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

Provided by NetGalley/Pub


The cover is totally appropriate for the story, eye-catching, and very attractive. Using the old sepia-toned photograph for the bridge and then adding color to it makes this a wonderful cover for this book about a landmark that was built back when it was indeed before its time and stood the test of time. Putting a female figure front and center in the picture is also representative of what happens in the story as Emily Warren Roebling takes the stage front and center in our story and indeed in the history of this bridge, as our story is based on the actual history of the building of this bridge.

Emily is deeply involved in the fight for women’s rights and the whole women’s suffrage movement. She is totally committed to the cause and she is determined to help make a change.

Wash, Emily’s husband, and his father are engineers. Their company is newly involved in building a bridge that many think can’t be built. Wash’s father is injured beyond working. Wash takes over the project, but he has health issues and his health is further compromised by his own neglect during the construction of the bridge.

Through this and other circumstances, Emily is forced to completely abandon her own commitments and take over his position by proxy as first engineer on the bridge project. Emily’s knowledge of this sort of mathematics is from her own self-teaching of reading some of Wash’s college books and some help from a new friend in the business. Emily is an intelligent woman, to begin with, and learns things quickly. What she doesn’t know, she makes sure she has the right help. As the bridge rises and Wash’s health fades, life goes on. Emily meets some extraordinary people. Life for Emily opens up in a way she could never have imagined. Her marriage suffers as her husband imagines things about her relationships. He moves back to his family home. Eventually, some of his accusations drive her to make some of them true as she seeks support from his emotional battering. All this time, the bridge rises and Brooklyn gets joined to Manhattan. The world goes wild over the achievement and Wash takes all the credit for it, though he hasn’t worked on the project for quite some time. Emily has done all the work and made all the decisions.

The project is done. Her husband is gone. There is nothing more for Emily to do. Will she recognize the woman she has become, the woman that life has forced her to become? What will she do now? Which way will she turn? I think I’ve made this sound like a short book, but this whole project took years to build and the story covers the whole time and with over 350 pages you can bet it does a good job of it! I tried  not to give away any of the juicy bits. I totally recommend this excellent book to anyone who likes stories about women who survive what life has to throw at them.

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