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.
From the Hardcover edition
©2012 Kate Alcott (P)2012 Random House Audio
“We all know how the Titanic went down, we all saw the movie. But what happened after? This brilliant book shows the aftermath of the tragedy, seen through the eyes of a brave, young girl who was on board, on her way to America, to start a new life as a dressmaker. From the minute Tess sets foot on the doomed ship, this is the kind of novel you simply cannot put down and cannot forget.” (Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept)
"This is a fascinating premise for a novel as well as a powerful, page-turning read. It's also a very valuable contribution to our understanding of the events surrounding the sinking of The Titanic, and its aftermath." (Isabel Wolff, author of A Vintage Affair)
"It's Titanic revisited, in a romance focused on the survivors and the scandal, seen from the perspective of an aspiring seamstress whose fortunes intertwine with real characters from the epic tragedy....interesting historical facts...an appealing, soulful freshness to this shrewdly commercial offering" (Kirkus)
Part of me says this only deserved 4 stars because it wasn't something profoundly deep, but my love for the story of the Titanic and fashion and NYC and history combined?? A total treat for me! I'm a Titanic nerd but hadn't heard a lot of the stories and facts in this book, which were fun to read about after I was done. It had some fascinating info about the ship and all that surrounds it, fresh perspectives about what it was like, and I loved the social hierarchy info about the time and life in NYC.
This could have been a heart wrenching story, but it was one step up from a Harlequin Romance. If Kate Alcott had gotten rid of the love triangle, which added nothing to the story, and focused more on the drama of the inquiry it would have been more compelling.
The most interesting part of the story was the testimony at the inquiry. The author's note said that much of it was taken from the actual transcripts. There were some moments when the reality of the tragedy really hit home and when you could almost feel the fear that ruled people fighting for their lives. While the author did focus on this human tragedy, she whitewashed it with a stupid love story.
The least interesting was Jack. He was superfluous to the story.
I thought Susan Duerden was very good when it came to dialogue. She spoke naturally, and conversationally. She gave unique voices to many of the characters. Perhaps the strongest voice was that of Lady Lucille Duff-Gordon. The problem came when there was no dialogue. She accented words at the end of each sentence which gave it a rise and fall in rhythm, hence a very sing-song voice. I found that tendency to be distracting.
Good question. It was an okay story, and I finished it.
No. I assume the printed version was better as the narrator was distracting
Tess was my favorite character.
Her reading style was irritating and distracting to a well written book
The narrator played to stereotypes when differentiating the characters, which made me more annoyed than sympathetic with their plight.
The story was not good and the title misleading. What I thought would be more about her dressmaking/designing abilities was more a reiteration of journalist (paparazzi) opportunism. Lucille seemed the more unstable version of Miranda from "A Devil Wears Prada." The story was often predictable and the writing unoriginal.
The round of applause for Tess after she successfully cut the expensive fabric. Very predictable and incredibly cheesy.
I didn't get past the first part and abandoned the book after the Titanic sank. I got tired of the simpering personality of the heroine. I wanted her to just stand up for herself just once and quit apologizing. I also thought when she talked to the reporter how stupid she was. I could see that coming like a freight train. I just dislike authors who write helpless, stupid women heroines.
I've always had a fascination for stories centered around Titanic, especially those that contain factual details. This story brings the characters to life in a way that doesn't make you question whether events did or didn't actually happen.
For the first time in a long time, I had a serious issue with the inflection of the narrator's voice. At first, I thought that it was the accent and that I would get used to it, but it ended up feeling like nails on a chalkboard. If I hadn't wanted to read the book so much in the first place, I would have never made it through the whole thing.
The story was worth it, but I wouldn't recommend the audible version, sorry.
If you're a history buff, this book is for you. If you're looking for a sweeping historical romance, take a pass on this one and grab a Coleen Cable novel. I was SO bored with the Senate hearings, the flat dialogue and lackluster protagonist. I enjoyed the narrator's English accent, but the high-pitched, breathy voice she used for Tess drove me up the walls. I'm sure she didn't intend to make Tess sound like such a ninny, but I kept picturing a brainless bimbo every time Tess spoke up. I admit, the backstory about the completely unfair lifeboat situation is rather intriguing, but I was hoping for more fun and fluffy fiction mixed with historical facts. This will be my first and last book by this author.
Wow, great story! One of my favorite books I've read in a long time.
If you like the Titanic history at all you will really enjoy this book. It was very interesting all the way through.
Tess of course was my favorite. But I also like Eleanor.
Eleanor could always saw her sister's side and vulnerabilities and tried to make Tess see them even when she did not agree with how Lucille treated others.
This would make a great movie.
No. It was like reading nearly everything from The Titanic. The storyline varied only slightly.
I was disappointed that the story did not offer more. It began with promise and gradually told of the same old story of a rags to riches fantasy. A young girl trying to escape a life of poverty by coming to America. Miraculously, she gets a job working for the most famous dresss designer in England, who also is traveling on the Titanic for a fashion show in New York. It's discovered that she has a unique gift as a dressmaker. On the ship, this young woman meets another working class traveler. By chance, she also meets a very wealthy man who expresses interest in her. Everything in this story predicts the outcome. No one in their right mind would have made the same choices.
She could have stopped stressing how naieve and innocent the dressmaker was and emphasized her strengths, more. Instead, I was given the impression that this was a woman too weak to be decisive about anything. She seemed to be walking around with blinders on. To elevate a maid to the position of the power she was given, with her own apatment, salary and wardrobe, within a year; was unbelievable. And to reconnect with the wealthy gentleman who wants to marry her and set her up in her own business, is, again, unbelieveable. But, the poor young man that she met on the Titanic, by CHANCE, meets up with a mentor who offers him a chance to have his artistic talents recognized, made me groan out loud. Everything about this book was so unreal. I thought it was more like a Hallmark 'true love story.'
It already has. Only a few characters have been changed. Otherwise, it could have been made into a movie titled, "Titanic,Part 2
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