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?
Interestingly enough, the big subplot of this novel: the love triangle between Emily, Wash, and PT Barnum isn’t even mentioned in the synopsis. Nor is the women’s suffrage movement, also a significant part of the story. Both of these things gave more depth to the storyline, and PT Barnum was arguably the most interesting character in the novel.
I found Emily herself likable enough, if a bit self-absorbed. She fought a hard battle and that came through clearly, although I felt her strength was overshadowed by her lack of awareness of how her actions affected others. Wash was also self-absorbed, but his willingness to put his own feeling aside in favor of Emily’s wishes was a nice touch of character.
Tracey Enerson Wood has always loved writing. The Engineer’s Wife is her new novel.
(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review.)