The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker

A Novel

Book - 2012
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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.

Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385535588
Branch Call Number: F ALC
Characteristics: 306 p. ; 25 cm


From the critics

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Feb 03, 2019

Beautifully written. A different take on the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic.

Aug 28, 2017

This was a very enjoyable book to read. The author gives the reader perspective on the times, the styles, the mores, and plenty of troubles to be worked many characters! Learning more about the Titanic disaster and the subsequent hearings was "icing on the cake" for readers with interest in history.

Jun 26, 2015

This was a fascinating book. I loved having a glimpse into society 100 years ago from the perspective of a woman trying to create a new life and a career for herself. I enjoyed watching the movie Titanic but never really thought about the fate of the survivors and what moral/emotional issues those people would be haunted by for the rest of their lives. I also enjoyed this window into the world of fashion at that time...just as women's roles and rights and changing so is the length of their skirts. I wish the book had had a short epilogue showing a view into Tess's future, but I imagine it was even better than she had hoped it would be.

Feb 08, 2015

Recommended to me by a colleague. Some interesting information about some of the events that happened at the time of the sinking of the Titanic, but otherwise pretty lightweight.

Aggie3 Nov 28, 2014

I enjoy Kate Alcott's style of writing. I was a little surprised this story was mainly about the Titanic. I liked it, easy read, well written.

lbarkema Jun 19, 2014

Overall I enjoyed the story, I mean anything about the Titanic and I am hooked. But there were too many inconsistencies within the narrative mainly being that it jumped around too much and felt very disjointed. Also I didn't really care too much for the most of the characters (mostly because you would hear their thoughts for about half a page before it jumped to the next person, and the ones I did care about (Jim and Pinky) we do not get to read as much about and the depth of their characters. This had the potential to be an engaging story, but in the end fell a bit flat.

Dec 06, 2013

It was an engaging novel, and I had a fun reading it. The trials were well researched and it was an interesting look at a time period I haven't done a lot of reading on. The class situation could have been researched a little bit more and the characters more plausible, but otherwise it seemed well researched on the Titanic. Maybe not a book for hard core history books, but a good read I'd recommend to dabblers in historical fiction and who enjoy chick lit. For the full review, head to my blog at OboeChica Books (so long and thanks for all the fish)

Jun 24, 2013

We believed that we knew everything there was to know about the Titanic and all the more so after we saw the movie; but Kate Alcott has surpassed all that in her powerful novel, "The Dressmaker."
I was not sure whether to consider it History, Drama, or Romance and I was hoping that despite all the twists and turns the story would end as I wanted it to. Starting as it does with a tragedy of epic proportions things can only get better or can they not? Read this masterfully told novel and find out.

musicalmom418 May 11, 2013

This was an awesome book. If you like anything about the Titanic, you'll love this book. I had a hard time putting it down. I wanted to read it again and again.

Apr 21, 2013

Tess, a young girl in service and with dressmaking ambitions, manages to board the Titanic on its fateful voyage. What happens on the voyage and its aftermath of investigations tests her sense of morality, loyalty and self discovery.

This book was page-turning enjoyable reading written by a journalist turned fiction writer so we shouldn?t be surprised that one of her characters is an enterprising female reporter at the New York Times! I enjoyed spending a few days with these characters in this nearly hundredth anniversary year of the Titanic?s sinking.

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Jun 10, 2016

Very interesting read! Part of it takes place on the Titanic and has true information about the court cases that resulted from the sinking. I enjoy Kate Alcott's writing and her characters, and the history she includes in her novels.

siammarino Nov 24, 2013

The Dressmaker tells the story of a young Irish woman named Tess who gleefully boards the Titanic in the employ of a famous designer named Lucille on it's fateful voyage across the Atlantic. While the both survive the sinking, Tess becomes embroiled in the controversy surrounding the actions of the wealthy, like Lucille and her husband, on board the few lifeboats available. Based on the actual Senate hearings, Alcott explores the themes of loyalty, heroism, cowardice and selfishness in the face of disaster.

DanniOcean Mar 12, 2012

Thanks to James Carmeron – who has Walter Lord’s book A Night to Remember to thank in turn – there may not be a single person in the world who is not aware of the basic facts surrounding the sinking of the White Star Line’s RMS Titanic: she was not carrying enough lifeboats, not all of those lifeboats were filled to capacity, and only one of those went back to rescue people in danger of freezing or drowning. Of the 2224 passengers and crew, only about 700 survived and many of those were left impoverished, widowed and orphaned. In the case of some of the upper class survivors, they were ostracized by society, as the author investigates.

This is what makes Kate Alcott’s book different. As a Washington D.C. reporter, Alcott did her homework, and this is where her writing is strongest. She skims over the actual sinking of the ill-fated ship and ponders what happened next for those survivors? The chairman of the White Star Line J. Bruce Ismay, fashion designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon and Margaret “Molly” Brown are some of the upper class privileged who managed to survive. These real-life passengers are mixed with Alcott’s fictional characters, most of which are less believable, which seems almost disrespectable to those who perished; however, she plucks these characters from all classes, including steerage and crew who were least likely to survive the wreckage, the policy having been women and children first (and those on the upper decks, closest to the few available lifeboats). The dressmaker’s maid Tess, Jean and Jordan Darling, the sailor Jim and others may be less well-drawn, but we see the sinking and aftermath through all their eyes and stories. April 15th marks 100 years since the Titanic sank, and if they are not as developed as they could have been, it certainly gives the reader pause for thought and discussion for those who could have been their real-life counterparts.


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mrsgail5756 Nov 17, 2013

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” -Winston Churchill

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