The Engineer's Wife

Book Review of
The Engineer’s Wife

Author: Tracey Enerson Wood
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Publisher Summary:

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 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.

Lynn's Review

The Engineer's Wife

I don’t like to give books a bad review because most of the time it is a case of the wrong book at the wrong time or a well-written book that just wasn’t for me. But we give honest reviews here and The Engineer’s Wife was one of the worst books that I have read in a long time. The only reason I finished it was because I kept hoping it would get better. The reality is that it got worse.

The Engineer’s Wife is based on the true story of the Brooklyn Bridge and a wife who helped her injured husband complete his family’s work of building the Brooklyn Bridge. I thought the premise of this book sounded fascinating. I know very little about the Brooklyn Bridge and was excited to learn more.

This book was very pg-13, but that wasn’t my main complaint with it. My main complaint was the liberties that the author took with history. One of the main storylines in the book was an inappropriate relationship between, the Engineer’s wife Emily and P.T. Barnum. Both P.T Barnum and Emily are real people, but the author admitted in the author notes that their relationship, and what the book implied was an affair, was totally made up.

If this part of the story was a small part, I probably could have overlooked it, but it was a big part of the story and of the marriage between Emily and her husband. Once I realized that the author took this much liberty with the history of two real people, I had trouble figuring out what fact and what was fiction with the rest of the book.

It is fine to make up two people and their story, but in this case, the author took real people and totally made up a story that fit the image that she wanted to tell. The problem with this is that many people reading this book won’t realize what is fact and what is fiction. Therefore, the author is ultimately creating a story that trashes the history and character of two well-known people. That is hard for me to overlook. I can’t figure out why she made this part of the story up unless it was simply to add something to make that story more exciting.

This book had great promise, but the liberties that the author took with history were just way too much for me, and I can’t recommend this book.

4 thoughts on “The Engineer’s Wife”

  1. Lynn,
    I’m working my way through it and thought the first few chapters were great. But I as well am now only able to focus on the historical inaccuracies. The author has PT asking Emily if she loves him and telling her his wife (Charity) is sick. The time of this interaction is in 1875… Charity died in 1873. I am seriously contemplating putting the book down and not picking it back up.

    • I didn’t catch that about PT’s wife, but those are the exact things that drove me crazy about this book. So many people love this book, so I am glad I am not alone. I thought the writing style was fine and it had a lot of potential, but the author took too many liberties with history and had too many inaccuracies.

  2. Disappointed. From the 80 or so pages that I read, I found it to be quite unbelievable. She does the splits at a ball?? In the 1860’s?? Just the first of many bothersome things. I agree with whoever said it’s PG-13, and I also found it to be more of a Harlequin romance than historical fiction. Not going to finish it.


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