Book Review: The Engineer’s Wife

21 Jun

My newest book club — the IWBC (Interesting Women Book Club 😉 ) — is meeting for a second time tomorrow. We chose The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood for our discussion. This biographical novel focuses on Emily Warren Roebling, a very interesting woman! When her husband and chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge project, Washington Roebling, is struck down with a debilitiating disease common to the trade, she is thrust into a role never before performed by a woman. Her life is groundbreaking. A good read to understand the progress women made despite the numerous obstacles placed in their way.

She built the Brooklyn Bridge, so why don’t you know her name?

Emily Roebling built a monument for all time. Then she was lost in its shadow. Discover the fascinating woman who helped design and construct the Brooklyn Bridge. Perfect for book clubs and fans of Marie Benedict.

Emily refuses to live conventionally — she knows who she is and what she wants, and she’s determined to make a change. But then her husband 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 her husband Washington Roebling, 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. 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 an American icon, 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. The biography of a husband and wife determined to build something that lasts — even at the risk of losing each other.

Tracey Enerson Wood has always had a writing bug. While working as a Registered Nurse, starting an interior design company, raising two children, and bouncing around the world as a military wife, she indulged in her passion as a playwright, screenwriter and short story writer. She has authored magazine columns and other non-fiction, written and directed plays of all lengths, including Grits, Fleas and Carrots, Rocks and Other Hard Places, Alone, and Fog. Her screenplays include Strike Three and Roebling’s Bridge. The Engineer’s Wife is her first published novel.
Other passions include food and cooking, and honoring military heroes. Her co-authored anthology/cookbook Homefront Cooking, American Veterans Share Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom, was released in May, 2018, and all authors’ profits will be donated to organizations that support veterans.

A New Jersey native, she now lives with her family in Germany and Florida, and loves to travel, so be careful giving out casual invitations, she will show up anywhere.

Ms. Wood can be followed or reached at:
Twitter: @traceyenerson

My Impressions:

The plot of The Engineer’s Wife fit into the theme of my summer reading goals — a biographical novel featuring a strong woman who broke society’s expectations. The book follows Emily Warren Roebling from her first encounter with Washington Roebling during the Civil War to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1880s. Real life events and people are fictionalized as the author tells the story not only of the building of the iconic bridge, but a fascinating woman who wanted more than society dictated at the time. The construction struggles parallel the problems for a woman of the time. Did you know there was a law against women wearing pants?! Neither did I! Emily’s tenacity and loyalty are strong, and she is presented as a woman with flaws, but also fierce convictions and determination. I enjoyed this novel very much. The afterward lets the reader in on what is fact and what is fiction. I will admit that reading the author’s notes gave me a bit of a let down. There are some plot threads that added drama and tension to the novel, as well as an exploration of Emily’s character. These turned out to be purely fictional. It left me feeling like I really didn’t know the main character at all. That being said, I would still recommend The Engineer’s Wife. As a prospective reader, keep in mind that this is fiction. 😉 The novel is targeted to the general market. There is some language and adult situations.


Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)