A NOVEL OF EMILY WARREN ROEBLING
BY DIANE VOGEL FERRI ‧ RELEASE DATE: DEC. 10, 2020
Poet Ferri offers a historical novel about the life of real-life Victorian engineer and women’s rights activist Emily Warren Roebling.
After the sudden death of chief engineer John A. Roebling in the summer of 1869, the ambitious construction of the Brooklyn Bridge fell to his son, Washington. However, only a year later, the younger man would be incapacitated by caisson disease, leaving him physically unable to oversee the project in person. As a result, Washington’s wife, Emily, rose to fame as a devoted defender of the bridge and a skilled engineer in her own right, acting as liaison for her husband and handling daily supervision of the project. In this decade-spanning novel the author delves into a tumultuous period of American history as well as the mind and heart of her narrator. Ferri focuses on Emily’s internal life as she navigates the expectations placed on her as a wife and mother as well as intense public scrutiny over the bridge. She also bears witness to the inequities of women throughout American society, observing abuses as well as the disproportionate favor that’s placed on those in positions of privilege. Throughout the novel, Emily is beset by bitter discontentment over legal and social constraints, but she persistently reinvents herself and becomes a vocal advocate for women’s rights. Some sections involving invented characters or events can feel saccharine or overly convenient, but Ferri’s prose does a marvelous job of highlighting her protagonist’s exceptional mind and the restrictions she faced. Emily is shown to be loving, compassionate, insensitive, and bullish, by turns, resulting in a well-rounded and empathetic portrait of a woman whose ambition was greater than any single life could hold.
A sensitive and comprehensive exploration of an exceptional historical figure.
Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2020
Page Count: 415
Publisher: ATBOSH Media Ltd.
Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2021
Review Program: KIRKUS INDIE