The Dressmaker


Summary: Just in time for the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes a vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young woman who survives the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy.

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she’s had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic’s doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes.

Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky.

On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period’s glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.


Review: 4 stars

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott shines a whole new lighkt on the sinking of the Titanic. Kate Alcott writes about some of the real people who were aboard the Titanic, bringing together fact and fiction.

This is another book that I picked up after visiting the Titanic museum in Pidgeon Forge. My mom and I read this book at the same time and she actually finished it first, which is really saying something for me. This book went slow for me, I didn’t feel compelled to devour it.

One thing that kind of shocked me is that the Titanic sinks relatively early in this novel. The majority of the story is about after the sinking. It’s quite different than most stories about the Titanic. I found reading about the trials that happened afterwards to be incredibly interesting.

The book really makes you think about how people act during a crisis. Some of the actions of people can be incredibly brave, yet others acted selfishly and quite despicably. It is really interesting to think on as this novel is based on true events and people. Fear really brings out the absolute best and also the absolute worst in people.

Just because I didn’t read The Dressmaker quickly doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good. Quite the opposite in fact. It was truly a thought provoking novel. I found myself wondering if I would be brave in this type of scenario. I’d like to think that I would be a hero, but you can never know how you would really act until placed in a scenario like that. I couldn’t stop thinking of the way the passengers on Lifeboat 1 acted. The characters were so well developed that by the end of the novel I could actually understand how they could act so horribly because I could see it from their perspective.

Kate Alcott is a fantastic author. This was a well researched, developed and written piece of work. It is filled with characters that you root for and ones that you despise. But above all else, it is a novel that is filled with hope.

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