Book: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
Book Info: Published by Knopf Doubleday; 306 pages; hardcover; borrowed from the library
Goodreads 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.
I liked this more than I expected. I really liked that this book was about the aftermath. It was nice to see a book about the Titanic that’s about the aftermath, because I feel like a lot of books would focus on what happened onboard.
It’s not something you really think about it, is it? I mean, when I hear Titanic, I think sinking ship and horrible disaster. But I never really thought about what happened after it sunk. I didn’t know that there were hearings after the Titanic sank, so I definitely want to learn more about that. I liked that Alcott chose to write her version of the events that unfolded after the Titanic sank.
I didn’t like Lady Duff Gordon at all, and Alcott did a wonderful job of making her unlikeable. Tess was irritating at times, but you also see a woman who wants to start over and get a chance to become a seamstress. You see a lot of characters who made decisions that are later questioned in the hearings. It really makes you think about what you would do, and that everything is not always in black and white.
It was pretty fast-paced, and Alcott did a good job with keeping things moving. The characters were interesting, there was a lot of detail, and fact and fiction were hard to tell apart.
It was an enjoyable read, and I give it a 4 out of 5.