Alexander's Bridge (1912), Willa Cather's first novel, tells the story of Bartley Alexander, a successful engineer torn between duty to his career and wife, and his passion for the Irish actress Hilda Burgoyne. In spare but often searing prose, Cather's taut novella traces a mid-life crisis of self-doubt and disappointment that ends in a spectacular catastrophe. Cather's portraits of indomitable women on the Nebraska frontier in the novels O Pioneers! and My Antonia are well-known, but Alexander's Bridge shows her working in another, equally important mode, using urban settings and the figure of the bridge-builder to analyze America's emergence as an international industrial power at the turn of the twentieth century. Both anxious and celebratory, Alexander's Bridge anticipates The Great Gatsby in trying to reckon with the social and emotional costs of a new era in American life.