The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker

by Kate Alcott
3.7 195


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The Dressmaker: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 195 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the novel in just two sittings, eager to find out what happened to Tess and her beaus and Lucile. I have to admit that I didn't know much about what happened after the Titanic disaster and this book filled in all those gaps in my historical knoweldge but also kept me immensely entertained. The writing is solid but not showy, the characters are wonderful and real and the drama is heartfelt and often surprising.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ship's sinking informs the drama and there is a ton of great historical detail but the book is always fundamentally driven by character, relationships and the complexities of politics and society, all of which make for a very satisfying read.
NovelChatter More than 1 year ago
Synopsis: 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. My thoughts: I knew when we first met Tess, putting unironed, crumpled sheets on her employer's bed, that this wasn't going to be the usual Titanic story. This one was going to have a different spin to it. I was really looking forward to reading Kate Alcott's The Dressmaker, and I am really glad that I did get to read it! Tess wrangles her way on to the Titanic by seizing an opportunity to work for Lucile, Lady Duff-Gordon, the infamous clothing designer and the somewhat questionable survivor on the Titanic. Tess is no maid, she's a talented seamstress, with a gift in design and Tess uses this opportunity to get to New York and find a future there. Unlike other books and stories with a Titanic plotline, The Dressmaker's author, Kate Alcott, wisely places the tragic sinking towards the beginning of her story and places all of the action and development around the survivors and the U.S. Senate hearings that asked questions that one hundred years later, are still being asked. I enjoyed reading The Dressmaker, I think the plot lines were interesting and the writing even and consistent. I do have to add that I was a bit disappointed in the character development in some of the second tier characters and I felt that we really didn't get to know Tess, or what she really thought of the two diametrically opposed men who Tess is involved with from the ill fated cruise, Jack, the wealthy Chicagoan and Jim, the sailor. Alcott, in a brilliant move, used actual testimony from the hearings to help paint the scenery of what the world was like in 1912 and how the Titanic was evacuated. It was good to see the names of the famous and infamous included in her telling and it was enlightening to learn that even a hundred years ago, the paparazzi were present (and hounding in their pursuit of a photo and a story from the mournful, dazed survivors) as the Carpathia docked in New York. Alcott also includes a daring and somewhat pushy female reporter, Pinky, so that she could provide the readers a look at the about-to-explode world of the suffragettes and women's rights. *This galley was provided to me by the publisher's publicist at my request, and that in no way affected my fair review.
crystal_rider More than 1 year ago
I was excited for this book since I love all things Titanic. This was a total waste of money. It went so slow in parts and I was very bored with the so called love story in it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was so looking forward to reading this and was highly disappointed. Although I know the premise was based on fact, the fictional story was so unrealistic. Amazing how someone "accidentally" gets to come to America, and then so freely roams around with no knowledge of how America works, yet is so comfortable is suddenly eating with high society, running a factory, and getting a marriage proposal from a rich man. Right. I lend my books to my friends and relatives when I finish but not this one It will go into the donation pile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tess is a young maid with aspirations to be more than just a servant. She is basically in the right spot at the right time (or alternatively, the very wrong spot at the wrong time) and talks her way into working for the famous and famously rude fashion designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon. The first order of business is a trip across the Atlantic on the Titanic. Despite a few awkward interactions with Lucile, Tess proves herself a worthy helper and the fashion designer seems to taking a likiing to the young woman. Lucile even allows Tess to indulge in a few luxuries, bumping her up from storage to a room in first class. As Tess fills her days accompanying Lucile on leisurely strolls along the deck, she meets a wealthy business man and a young sailor, who are set up as her love interests. But then disaster strikes shortly into the novel. We see the sinking of the Titanic and Lucile's sketchy behavior during the tragedy, but the novel's real focus is once they land in New York. The media swarms the survivors, grieving relatives cast scornful looks in their direction and the senate begins an investigation into what exactly went wrong. There are specific accusations thrown at Lucile and Tess is swept up in the drama surrounding her boss. There are some unexpected turns and I had my heart in my throat during the courtroom scenes but it's also a lovely atmospheric novel and a great coming of age story. Lots of compelling (albeit very imperfect) female characters. In addition to Tess and Lucile, there's a feisty New York Times newspaper reporter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had promise, but fell very short. The characters were underdeveloped. The reader feels no connection at all. The writing was choppy and confusing at times. I struggled through this one. I did appreciate the historical aspects of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the idea but the execution was at times painful and made me involuntarily stab myself with my metal bookmark several times in my right temple. I was not looking for such a feathery relaxed almost Young Adult fiction attempt at a captivating area of history. I wanted meat and all I could taste at the end of reading this was whipped pudding. While the story moved along at a decent pace in certain parts, it seemed to just float over the most exciting parts or the areas for the most potential (the sinking of Titanic or even the rescue) and focused more on the thrown in lame love attraction . It was all just anticlimactic and dull. I wanted to experience some emotion, but the first 40 pages left me reaching for my Titanic encyclopedia (some major details of the blue print of the ship do not match, example the levels of the decks). However, some potential readers will not be so particular with the Titanic’s construction, so I will move along. The characters were just bland and predictable. The rich were cruel and haughty (and always written in smoking a cigarette at a crucial moment of the story, smearing red lip stick or wearing red) and the poor were just thrown in as the victims, with expected and clich¿ side stories. The only interesting gray character was continually described with having “an ample stomach” (not flattering when the character is actually an interesting woman in history). Besides the lack of characterization, I cringed and rolled my eyes at times with the dialogue and lack luster romance of the main character. Supposedly exciting Historical moments were handled with an overly sugary approach that came off as something just thrown in; to “prove” to the unfortunate reader they were supposed to believe that they were still floating above the late Edwardian era. In the end, I thought the book’s only saving grace was the absolutely mesmerizing Sea Trials of the Titanic. If anything this fluffy book made me race to my Library and do my own research on the trials. To any potential reader, the advice I will leave you with is: borrow this title is you must read this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To Anonymous who is so proud of her synopsis-- why does it never occur to uou and all those like you who insist on rewriting what is ALREADY written for us in the ,"Overview"? This space is for a sentence or two, did you like the book or not. Okay, that is enough! Me? I love historical fiction and thougjt this one was fresh and new. See, on the first morning she opens her eyes, thrn breathes in, then scratches the end of her nose.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was poorly written and disappointing. It started off promising then just ended. Historical fiction is always interesting but this was a waste of time. Move to another book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Am enjoying this book and the details of the period. Recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical/romantic stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I reallly enjoyed how the author went into great detail about how some of the characters came to terms with the aftermath of the tragedy. It was great that some of the info included were actual facts. I would really enjoy reading a sequel that continues the story of Tess and Jim as they make their way in America.
CarolynSS More than 1 year ago
Tried on three occasions to get into this one. Finally gave up. Happy I only borrowed it from the library.
LydiainJoliet More than 1 year ago
I was so looking forward to reading this, but really struggled through each chapter, hoping it would get better, it didn't. Very disappointing, it lacked substance, I felt little, if any connection to the characters and felt it did an injustice to the sinking of the Titanic. The Titanic portion was skimmed over and I am wondering if this book was written to cash in on the sensationalism of the 100th anniversary. I often had difficulty following the story line as it jumped around irratically Iwould pass this one up if I were you...
mevo More than 1 year ago
I liked the idea of this book, but the execution felt lazy, poorly researched and poorly written. You would think that it would not be that hard to write a well-researched book about the sinking of the Titanic when there is so much information out there, but the author somehow managed to almost skim over the shipboard and sinking scenes as if she was not comfortable with them and wanted to hurry up and get to the parts she could safely make up. Tess was OK when she was not around either of her two "love interests". And the love interests were kind of bland and boring. The Duff Gordons came off as one dimensional. To me, the book felt like an early draft that was rushed into market before it was ready in order to capitalize on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking. Some more research and a couple more drafts would have made a huge improvement on the quality of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like others, I was very disappointed with this book. I was really looking forward to reading it. With the author's credentials, one would think she would have done better research. Loads of historical inaccuracies, slow moving and dull characters... I will not be recommending this book to any of my friends or family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Horrible read waste of money very bory storyline flat undeveloped characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poorly written...will cash in on the renewed interest in the sinking of the Titanic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. I am really into sewing and the Titanic so this peaked my interest. I couldn't put it down and I really liked how it was based off true events and real people!
sccarol More than 1 year ago
There wasnt anything really wrong with this book, but the story did not hold my interest after the first half or so. It seemed to lose momentum. I will probably go back & finish it at some point, however.
ZQuilts More than 1 year ago
I wasn't quite certain what to expect when I began reading this debut historical novel by Kate Alcott book, but since I have a yen for the turn of the 19th century (prior to WW I) I thought I'd give it go. I was most happily surprised with an excellent read that is historical fiction at some of its best. The book begins as a young Tess Collins flees from the home where she is employed doing menial labor and stitching for the family of a vexing, sexually groping teenaged boy. Determined to better herself, and become the dressmaker that she dreams of becoming, Tess rashly flees the house and heads to the dock where the Titanic is tied up, waiting to begin her ill fated voyage to America and the history books. Somewhat easily, Tess wrangles a position as a lady's maid to the famous designer, Lady Duff Gordon (aka Lady Lucille) and quickly finds herself surrounded in a luxurious world of good food, designer clothing a soft bed, kind gentlemen and an imperious mistress. On board Tess makes the acquaintance of an interesting, well dressed,well mannered handsome man, Jack Bremerton. She also becomes friendly with a sailor named Jim. From this point the book covers much of the usual Titanic fare. The iceberg and the ill trained staff, the life boats that launched half empty and the flailing and screams that came from the tortured waters. Tess and the Duff-Gordons are separated and wind up in separate life boats. Eventually rescued by the crew of the Carpathia the story picks as the differing tales of what really happened in those life boats begins. Tess imagines that the fascinating Jack did not survive as there had been no word of him. Jim and she meet on the deck of the Carpathia, both had survived. Upon arrival in New York the few surviving passengers and crew begin to pick up the remnants of their lives. Tess moves with the Duff-Gordons to the Plaza hotel and is hired to be 'an assistant', rather than a maid, in Lucille's dress atelier. Jim manages to locate Tess, and they discuss those fateful hours together. Jack Bremerton is, indeed, found to have survived the tragedy. He finds Tess and begins courting her. A female reported for the New York Times called Pinky becomes involved with the investigation, and befriends both Tess and Jim. Ultimately, the Senate becomes involved in the investigation and survivors and crew are called upon to testify. There are allegations that Lady and Cosmo Duff Gordon bribed the sailor to not go back for more survivors and that they pushed people back into the sea fro fear that they would be swamped in the effort. The cast of characters is well rounded and well fleshed out. The 'unsinkable' Molly Brown is also one of the characters in this novel. What I really liked about this book is the historical portrait of the times that it provided. The suffragette movement and women's rights for equal pay were in full swing during this time period, as was the beginning of the industrial revolution. The times were changing, and the people were trying to adapt to the world that I think they felt was becoming out of control. This book presents not only a portrait of a tragedy it amply provides a fleeting glimpse of what the world was like during these precious pre war moments... it was a time on the brink of change and this book brings you into the time and the place quite well. I found myself fully involved in these characters and in the times in which they lived. Ms. Alcotts presentation was flawless and I look forward to her next book!
The-Lady-Loves-Purple More than 1 year ago
What an outstanding book! I was looking for another book about Titanic and found this by chance and am so happy I bought it. It gives another point of view of survivors. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it.  I think it would be great for a book club review.
susan568SW More than 1 year ago
This book was a big disappointment!!! The author had too many different stories going on and didn't concentrate on just telling one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too much jumping back and forth. Either write only about the historical facts and inquest, or develop and tell the story of the Dressmaker and her mentor - that would have been much more interesting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I listened to the audio version of this book and I found myself sitting in the driveway so as not to have to stop!