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The Dressmaker: A Novel | [Kate Alcott]

The Dressmaker: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's 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.

From the Hardcover edition

©2012 Kate Alcott (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (256 )
5 star
 (66)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.7 (222 )
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3.6 (220 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (23)
Performance
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  •  
    Diane Venice, FL, United States 08-27-12
    Diane Venice, FL, United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Weak narrator...Story is good"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Dressmaker to be better than the print version?

    No. I assume the printed version was better as the narrator was distracting


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Tess was my favorite character.


    What aspect of Susan Duerden’s performance would you have changed?

    Her reading style was irritating and distracting to a well written book


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary ITHACA, NY, United States 08-13-12
    Mary ITHACA, NY, United States 08-13-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Poor writing/performance"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The narrator played to stereotypes when differentiating the characters, which made me more annoyed than sympathetic with their plight.


    What could Kate Alcott have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    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.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Susan Duerden’s performances?

    No


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Dressmaker?

    The round of applause for Tess after she successfully cut the expensive fabric. Very predictable and incredibly cheesy.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Hewett Dallas TX 05-23-12
    K. Hewett Dallas TX 05-23-12 Member Since 2014

    Reacher Fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Simpering heroine"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen 05-21-12
    Jen 05-21-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Read, Not Good Listen"
    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    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.


    Was The Dressmaker worth the listening time?

    The story was worth it, but I wouldn't recommend the audible version, sorry.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica Austin, TX, United States 05-06-12
    Jessica Austin, TX, United States 05-06-12 Member Since 2009
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    "A titanic miss for romance fans"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    diana United States 04-27-12
    diana United States 04-27-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I highly recommend this book!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Wow, great story! One of my favorite books I've read in a long time.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary HOMER, LA, United States 04-23-12
    Mary HOMER, LA, United States 04-23-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Historical Fiction!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If you like the Titanic history at all you will really enjoy this book. It was very interesting all the way through.


    Which character – as performed by Susan Duerden – was your favorite?

    Tess of course was my favorite. But I also like Eleanor.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    This would make a great movie.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra LI New York 04-23-12
    Sandra LI New York 04-23-12 Member Since 2013

    Bookworm

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Predictable"
    Would you try another book from Kate Alcott and/or Susan Duerden?

    No. It was like reading nearly everything from The Titanic. The storyline varied only slightly.


    Has The Dressmaker turned you off from other books in this genre?

    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.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    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.'


    Could you see The Dressmaker being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    It already has. Only a few characters have been changed. Otherwise, it could have been made into a movie titled, "Titanic,Part 2


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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