Book review: The Woman at the Wheel

The Woman at the Wheel

Penny Haw

Sourcebooks Landmark

Review: Karen Watkins

This inspiring historical novel breathes life into the journey of Bertha Benz.

Her support and determination played a pivotal role in her husband Carl Benz’s invention of the first prototype motor car. This union ultimately gave birth to the iconic Mercedes-Benz brand.

Set in 19th-century Germany, the story reveals Bertha’s early fascination with her father’s work as a master builder.

It is also a story of love and how Bertha fell for Carl Benz.

Her unwavering belief in his vision leads her to invest her dowry and inheritance into his dream of a horseless invention.

Facing numerous setbacks, financial hurdles and societal scepticism, they tirelessly develop their revolutionary invention.

The story occasionally delves into intricate details of their struggles and yet it captures the essence of the time and Bertha’s pivotal role that is at the heart of their entrepreneurship and innovation.

Whether you are a fan of historical fiction or intrigued by untold stories of memorable women, this book is a must-read.

Former journalist and columnist, Penny Haw lives in Hout Bay and is the author of The Invincible Miss Cust and Nicko: The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm, which is now included in school curricula.