The Dressmaker's Dowry

The Dressmaker's Dowry

by Meredith Jaeger


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For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways.

An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom...

San Francisco: 1876

Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O'Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city's most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna's future is altered forever. With Margaret's encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating that will echo through the generations.

San Francisco: Present Day

In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer? 





Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062469830
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/07/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 280,058
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. While working for a San Francisco start-up, Meredith fulfilled her dream of writing a novel, the result of which was The Dressmaker,s Dowry. Meredith lives in Alameda with her husband, their infant daughter, and their bulldog.

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The Dressmaker's Dowry: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice beginning, interesting characters but then it fizzled out to make it a short read. Do publishers require this from authors now? Do they think we have no attention span? Such great potential but a hurried ending. Could have been a great read instead it was a nice short story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Romance, murder, mystery and woven together so well. Highly recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fascinating novel of our history with characters who are determined to be independent and make life better for those who have very little. I was intrigued and didn’t want it to end
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
If only this novel has been written differently, my review rating my be more favorable. The overall content of the story was simply amazing but what really devalued it for me, was the sexual content and profanity. Unfortunately that didn't happen til more than half way through the book. Oh how I wish I could give it more but based on the standards and review ratings I established, I can't and still remain true to my reviews as well as my own personal ethics and integrity. The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger is a duality novel meaning that it revolves around two very different characters and each chapter toggles between both time frames, past and present and those characters point of views which we find out much later on, tie in quite uniquely to one another in a unusual manner I didn't see coming. The setting for the novel is both San Francisco, both in the early 1870's as well as present day. For Sarah Havensworth, who is married but hiding a long dark secret from her husband Hunter, she hopes to some day have her novel published and one her husband whole-heartily supports. She now uncovers some details while researching ideas for her writers block which open up the investigative side of her journalists heart. So she switches gears to follow up on the missing dressmakers who lived in the same part of town she lives in, who apparently people believed might have been murdered. As she begins to unravel the lives of Hannalore Schaeffer and Margaret O'Brien, the missing dressmakers, she begins to uncover a more sinister secret that someone wants to be keep buried at all costs and will stop at nothing to ensure that Sarah gives up any further pursuit. For Hannalore or Hanna, as she is referred to in the novel finds that working in the dressmaker's shop helps her meet a deeper goal. To escape an abusive father who believes that Hanna is holding out her money so he can spend it on alcohol and gambling. Now she knows she will do whatever it takes to rescue herself and her 3 siblings leave home and find a new life someplace else. For now she will simply do all she can to endure the abuse and keep whatever food she can on the table, even it if means she does without. But her life is about to change with Lucas Havensworth shows up to get his suits mended and runs quite literally into Hanna. From that point on, their lives will be forever changed in remarkable and sinister ways. I received The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. For me this was so well written about both women searching for something more than what their providential lives offered not realizing that in time they would be somehow connected. I love the passion that Sarah has to uncover the truth about what happened to Hanna and Margaret and to solve a century old cold case in the process. I just wish profanity and sexual content was eliminated because it would have made for a much better well received novel across a broader audience. The fact that these two elements exist call for me to give this a 3 out of 5 stars based on my own reviewers rating scale. If those items were removed, it would be a 5 out of 5 star novel!
Anonymous 7 months ago
The San Francisco setting and histoical information woven into the novel made it interesting. The characters were well developed and likable. However, for me, the story was too far fetched.
LynnLD More than 1 year ago
The Ties that Bind! Meredith Jaeger uses an interesting and intricate technique as she tells the tale of The Dressmaker’s Dowry. Sarah is writing a thesis and decides to do a narrative non-fiction piece on two young immigrant dressmakers that vanished in 1876. Hanna and Margaret lived in the Barbary Coast area of San Francisco and Sarah’s research takes her down many dark paths as she strives to understand what life was like during the Victorian age. This book goes back and forth from Sarah’s current life to that of the struggling women who both get involved with men from a wealthy family. Read and savor every word and see how Sarah’s life is mysteriously connected to Hanna and Margaret's!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings One of my favorite sub genres is a dual narrative with one being present tense and one being historical - so this book started right in my wheelhouse. I love when the reader knows how these two stories will intertwine from the beginning with still a few surprises held to the end. Sometimes in these books I tend to love and enjoy one storyline over the other and favor one, but not so in this one. I honestly loved each storyline equally and wasn't trying to skip one over the other! Sarah Havensworth has married "above her station" and into a family of prestige and wealth. Hannaelore Schaeffer is barely making ends meet for her family and may find herself in the presence of people above her station and they will forever change her life.
amylovestoread More than 1 year ago
Love the storyline and back and forth timeline. A real page turner after the first couple chapters. Looking forward to more books by Meredith Jaeger.
BettyTaylor More than 1 year ago
San Francisco was and is a city of many cultures and has a fascinating history. Thus, being a fan of historical fiction, I was quickly drawn into this story that alternated between present day San Francisco and 1876 San Francisco. Sarah Havensworth, a former journalist, married into the wealthy Havensworth family. They seem to have the perfect marriage; however, as always, one of them has a secret. Sarah had planned to tell Hunter her dark and painful secret before they got married; however, the time just never seemed to be right. And now she is afraid she will lose him when – not if - he finds out. But, unbeknownst to Sarah and Hunter, his family also has a secret. With her husband Hunter’s financial support and encouragement, she planned to write a historical novel set in 1876 San Francisco for her master’s thesis. However, she just can’t find the inspiration she needs to bring her characters to life on the page. But one day, as she is browsing through historical events from 1876, a headline pops up: “January 10: Missing dressmakers believed to be murdered”. This is it! But as she researches the story of Hannelore (Hanna) Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien she decides she really doesn’t want to write a novel; she wants to fall back on her former skills as a journalist and write a journalistic narrative. Thus begins her search to find out what happened to these two women. And surprisingly, she finds a link to her husband’s family. The lives of Sarah and Hanna revealed such a contrast from chapter to chapter. While Sarah was pampered by her husband and wanted for nothing, when Hanna’s mother died she was left to care for her three younger siblings and endure an alcoholic, abusive father. Fortunately Hanna, unlike many women of the time, could read and she had seamstress skills. Margaret, who could not read, had an even harder time surviving. She had more siblings than did Hanna, also had no mother, and had a drunken father. Ms. Jaeger’s writing style effortlessly flows back and forth between present day and 1876. Her descriptions allowed me to envision how San Francisco must have been in 1876 – the noise of the street vendors and horses, the smells of fresh – and rotting – fish markets, the society ladies strolling in their finest apparels, the poor immigrants just trying to stay alive another day. I remained in suspense throughout the book wondering what happened to these unfortunate girls, and what the tie between them and Hunter’s family was. This engrossing novel is Meredith Jaeger’s first novel, and I hope it is not her last.
beckybh More than 1 year ago
THE DRESSMAKER'S DOWRY, by Meredith Jaeger, is an appealing and unique story of love, survival, and secrets. Set in San Francisco, it alternates between modern times and 1876. The story begins in the present day and is told in first person, past tense. Sarah Havensworth is a grad student trying to write a novel for her MFA thesis. She's stuck with her story about life in the late 19th century's Barbary Coast and hasn't written anything in several weeks. Not only does she feel like a fraud because she can't finish her book, she's reluctant to let her husband Hunter Havensworth know. While researching her novel, Sarah discovers an article in an 1876 local newspaper referring to the disappearance of two dressmakers. The story intrigues Sarah because a serial killer was in the area at the same time, and she wonders if there's any way to tell if the dressmakers were his victims. So she abandons her soulless novel to write the more compelling dressmakers' story. This portion is set in 1876 and told in the third person, past tense by Hannelore "Hanna" Schaeffer. She's an immigrant from Bavaria, speaks German and English fluently, and is the oldest of four children of a fat, alcoholic, and abusive father. She and her Irish immigrant friend, Margaret O'Brien, spend long hours sewing for an unpleasant woman and her wealthy customers. One night Margaret is supposed to watch Hanna's siblings but never arrives. Hanna vows to find Margaret and enlists her friend, real estate mogul Lucas Havensworth, to help her. Both Sarah and Hanna are survivors. They've lived through horrible situations and experienced bullying, deprivation and self-doubt. Though they each find love, they feel they don't deserve it and try to distance themselves from their partners. Sarah and Hanna have secrets too. Deep ones, that if discovered, could make their lives miserable. As a history and preservation professional, I'm drawn to the research Sarah conducts to gather information for her story. The author uses this info to capture the disparity in living conditions between the wealthy citizens of late 19th century San Francisco and the poor immigrant populations living in unsafe and squalid areas of the city. And her portrayal of how the upper classes treated the other levels of society is reflected in both Sara's time and in 1876. Pros: The story is definitely unique and well thought out. The plot and subplots interweave fairly well, and the characters are multidimensional and extremely interesting. Cons: The novel could have been shorter--some passages are a little too long without adding to the story. In many places, the length of the sentences are similar, resulting in a somewhat stilted reading rhythm. Final Thoughts: THE DRESSMAKER'S DOWRY a good book for readers who like mysteries and character-driven stories and for people who like a bit of history sprinkled through their fiction. Though it's in the contemporary women genre, I would've like to read in the fifth grade (when I read GONE WITH THE WIND), so it's suitable for teenagers too. If You Like This, You Might Like: THE LIFE SHE WAS GIVEN and WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND by Ellen Marie Wiseman, INTO THE WATER by Paula Hawkins, HER EVERY FEAR by Peter Swanson, THE ISLAND HOUSE by Nancy Thayer, INHERITING EDITH by Zoe Fishman * Read my other reviews on the Blue Moon Mystery Saloon blog. ** An e-galley was provided by William Morrow/HarpersCollin and Edelweiss for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sarah Havensworth, age 30, and her husband, Hunter, are at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco attending a fancy charity event hosted by Sarah’s mother-in-law, Gwyneth. Sarah does not care for mingling with large crowds of people but when Gwyneth asks for her help with these charity events, she knows she cannot refuse. Sarah’s master’s thesis is due soon. It consists of a novel she hasn’t finished writing due to writer’s block. She is more interested in the history of San Francisco and has written many well-received articles along that line. When she searches for stories of old San Francisco, she discovers one about two missing dressmakers in the late 19th century. The girls were thought to have been murdered. Thus begins Sarah's story. Hannalore Schaffer - San Francisco - 1876 Hanna and her siblings are at the mercy of their drunken father. He takes what little money they earn and then beats them. Often, Hanna will go hungry so her siblings can eat. Hanna works as a seamstress at a tailor’s shop and hides some of the money she makes under a floorboard at home. She hopes to save enough to run away with her siblings. Margaret O’Brien works with Hanna and is in a similar situation having the responsibility for the care of her many siblings. One day, two gentlemen come into the shop for repairs to some clothes. Their names are Lucas Havensworth and his cousin, Robert. Lucas is very kind to the girls but Robert is arrogant with them. One Sunday afternoon, Margaret and Hanna meet to enjoy a few hours walking around San Francisco. There, they see Lucas and Robert who stop and talk to them. As the two men prepare to depart in a carriage, a drunk man accosts Hanna and Margaret, but Lucas intervenes and punches the man. The man becomes very angry and swears he will kill the girls one day. The story switches back and forth from 1876 to present day San Francisco. We see the very desperate way many people in the city lived and how they struggled. We also see the enormous amount of drinking and opium places and the people addicted to them. As Sarah delves further into researching what happened to the girls, she finds she being threatened by someone who doesn’t want her to find out the truth. In addition, she is hiding something very awful from her own past. For some reason, this book just didn’t grab me as being realistic. I’m not sure I can say that I would care to recommend the book. I believe this is the author’s first novel so I look forward to reading what she writes next as I think every author needs second chances. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley and Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.
whatsbetterthanbooks More than 1 year ago
Intriguing, thought-provoking and heartwarming! This story is told from two different perspectives. One is that of Sarah, a young woman who stumbles upon an unsolved mystery from the 1870s while working on her thesis. And the other is Hanna, a young woman struggling to survive and raise her siblings in a time when women had no rights and few options. It is, ultimately, a story about loneliness, loss, injustice, determination, strength, tragedy, guilt, and love. The writing is smooth. The characters are strong, multi-layered, and fascinating. And the multiple plots quickly unravel into a engrossing mystery that not only manages to intertwine all the subplots, but also ends with a little surprise. Overall this is a wonderful debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Jaeger in the future.