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Review: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

[ 3 ] February 20, 2012 |

Reviewed by Christen Krumm

Tess is tired of being a maid to the upper class. She is not a servant. She is meant to be a seamstress. She finally catches a lucky break when she all but begs her way onto the Titanic working as a maid/assistant to Lady Lucile Duff Gordon, a famous dressmaker whom Tess admires. Lady Duff Gordon soon learns of Tess’s abilities as a seamstress and decides to take her on as her new project. While on the Titanic, Tess meets two men – Jack, the mysterious Chicago millionaire and Jim, the kind sailor.

On that fateful fourth day, the Titanic sinks. Both Tess and Lady Duff Gordon survive. When they land again on solid ground in New York, they are thrust into lawsuits and scandal. Tess continues to work for Lucile hoping beyond hope that the rumors swirling about her beloved employer are not true.

Both of Tess’s potential suitors survive and make it to New York as well, which leaves Tess with a decision: follow the millionaire with three failed marriages – but with the financial stability to follow her dreams – or follow her heart?

As The Dressmaker unfolds, the reader is taken back in time to meet a few real life characters such as Lady Lucile Duff Gordon, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, and Senator William Alden Smith – the senator responsible for many of the lawsuits after the sinking.

2012 marks one hundred years since the sinking of the Titanic. I love and appreciate the fact that Kate Alcott does not cover the same old material. Her story is more than just the story of the Titanic – in fact the ship sinks in the first two chapters. Alcott tells the story of the after-math. The scandal, the heartbreak, the guilt of the survivors. I loved reading about something new – something that does not seem to be mentioned much.

Unfortunately, the novelty of the plot is where the sparkle ended for me. This was a story that started out exciting, but then just fell … flat. By the end of the book I did not really care if Tess ended up with the Millionaire or Sailor; I really just wanted it to end. I did not feel vested in any of the characters’ lives. And the women’s suffrage bit just seemed to be thrown in as an afterthought to finish out the story.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Christen graduated from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith with a BA in English. She’s a coffee drinking stay at home mom by day and a freelance writer/editor by night. She currently resides in Arkansas with her husband and daughter and welcomed a son in August.

The review copy of this book was provided free of any obligation by Doubleday. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Category: Genre Fiction, Historical, Literature & Fiction

Comments (3)

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  1. 3
    Sue says:

    Yep, I felt the same way about this book! Full of promise, and then a big fizzle. I thought the inquiries went on too long, and I didn’t get any good romance vibe from either man with Tess. And I thought it was pretty obvious she wouldn’t marry the millionaire because he was so much older than her, and it seemed like the easy way out.

    I did like the fact that it focused on the aftermath of the disaster, but it could have been better.
    Sue recently posted..The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

  2. 2
    Carol Wong says:

    I really love the cover because it reminds me of the dresses in my grandmother’s Peterson magazine.

    Also, I found a family connection to the Titanic!

    I have read reviews like yours in sentiment else where. I was kind of hoping that it wasn’t true about it loosing its fizzle.

    Oh, I will check to see what else I can find out there.

    Carol Wong

  3. 1
    Colleen Turner says:

    Oh nuts, this one sounded so good! I actually have it on my Kindle Fire from Netgalley and am still excited to give it a try, but I will keep your words in mind when doing so. It is a shame that the bulk of the story fell flat for you, it has such a good premise! Thanks for the review!

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