Thursday, February 25, 2021

Book Review: The Engineer's Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood

The Engineer's Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood book cover and review 

The Engineer's Wife is an interesting historical fiction, based in truth, about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The building of this amazing structure was no small feat, taking decades to construct. It was also a very dangerous undertaking, causing many permanent injuries and even several deaths. The men had to spend much time in an underwater enclosure and were subject to the bends due to the pressure. Of course, in the 1800s, no one knew anything about this condition and subjecting themselves to this day after day caused many men to be permanently affected.

Washington Roebling was one of these men. And he was in charge of building the bridge. When he became so ill that he could no longer be at the building site, he sent his wife, Emily, with instructions and decisions about how to proceed. Emily took it upon herself to become knowledgeable about the design and engineering of the bridge so she could make decisions on her own.

The book starts out with Emily's and Washington's courtship and marriage. Washington's illness also caused a huge rift in their relationship, and Emily became friends with and eventually fell in love with P.T. Barnum.  Many other famous people make appearances in the novel.

Many of the descriptions of the building of the bridge were difficult for me to understand without pictures. These served to heighten my interest rather than frustrate me as a reader. I now intend to watch Ken Burns' documentary about the building of the bridge so I can better understand what the book was trying to describe.

It was an interesting story, however, it took me many weeks to get through it. Part of that was just because I didn't feel like reading, but maybe I didn't feel like reading because the book was a bit slow-paced.

Emily's feats are fascinating, and of course, she got little credit for her essential part in the completion of the bridge.

If you are interested in the subject, The Engineer's Wife won't disappoint.

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, 2020
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
356 pages

Rating: 4/5

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