Carl Benz may be known as the “Father of the Automobile,” but Bertha Benz was the woman behind the wheel driving the world into a new era. THE WOMAN AT THE WHEEL is a gorgeous historical fiction novel that takes a peek under the hood, examining the life of a fascinating woman who refused to let men hit the brakes on her revolutionary machine.

by Penny Haw
Sourcebooks Landmark, November 2023

He is known as The Father of the Automobile, but she drove their success.

Bertha Benz not only invested her dowry in the invention of the world’s first motorized carriage, which she and her husband, Carl labored over for years; she’s also the chief designer, mechanic, and tester of the machine.

Now, however, with the moguls who promised to back the machine withdrawing their support, Carl is ready to throw in the towel. Bertha knows that to give up would not only bankrupt the Benz family, but that it would also ruin everything they’ve worked for and their marriage. Besides, Bertha believes in the machine.

Ignoring the cynics and the men who ridicule her, Bertha takes matters into her own hands, secretly planning a trip that will either hasten the couple’s passage to absolute derision and impoverishment or prove to the world their genius. What Bertha doesn’t know is that Carl is on the cusp of making a deal with their nemesis. She is not only risking her marriage and life’s work, but is also up against her husband’s doubt and duplicity, the bias of every man she knows— and the clock.

Penny Haw is a long-time journalist and columnist and latter-day author. She has written for many leading South African newspapers and magazines for more than three decades. The Wilderness Between Us was her debut contemporary novel for adults and The Invincible Miss Cust was her debut historical fiction novel. Haw lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

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