Kendra R. (New Orleans, LA)
Great historical fiction, unnecessary love interest
What happens after the Titanic's passengers disembark was a new and very engaging story for me. I enjoyed the characters and the history and appreciated the author's note on fact vs fiction. The second romantic interest was unnecessary, and had me wondering what the book's overall tenor was going to be...but in the end, it was all about the Dressmaker and was enjoyable. It would certainly please multiple people - history, romance, women's issues - and make a good book club read, but maybe it was trying to hard to please too many people.
Diane H. (San Diego, CA)
Fresh View of an Old Story
Kate Alcott's The Dressmaker takes readers beyond the stories we all know about the sinking of the Titanic to the everyday lives of the survivors after the tragedy. Although it's difficult to judge characters in historical fiction by today's standards, I think the author did a good job of showing Tess on the edge of the 19th century women's movement as well as breaking through the structures of European class distinctions in a new America. Lots of strong female characters but it was difficult to be stuck with old-fashioned male/female relationships. Book clubs will enjoy lively discussions after reading this one.
Barbara W. (Watertown, NY)
Good, Fast Read. Great Historical Perspective.
A side of the Titanic tragedy that you often do not read about – the aftermath of survivor's lives, including the U.S. Senate hearings. The story follows real-life and fictional characters, illuminating the changing attitudes of society and the workplace. The themes of character and the consequences of our choices are strong throughout the novel.
Elizabeth L. (Salem, Oregon)
Disaster of a Book
This book was disappointing. First and foremost, the writing itself was poor. Secondly, the characters acted oddly and while their motivations were eventually explained (clumsily), it was definitely too little, too late. And sadly the plot relied on instant relationships of the main character - a maid - with the rich and famous (like Molly Brown) rather than developing a rich below deck story.
Laurette A. (Rome, New York)
New spin on a familiar story
I've just finished "The Dressmaker" by Kate Alcott and found it to be interesting and well written. Ms Alcott takes a sad incident from the past and places it as the backdrop in her story of Tess Collins, a young woman longing to find her own way in life in an America on the verge of many changes. My mother was only 3 months old when Titanic sank so it was interesting to take a step back and observe a slice of life from 1912. I enjoyed this book immensely and was disappointed to come to the end of it. I admire Tess and would love to see the author do some sort of "generational novel" with her as the central character over the years. Lovers of historical fiction will enjoy this.
Carol P. (Mendham, NJ)
The Tragedy of the Titanic
The Dressmaker provided a new fresh perspective to the Titanic tragedy- why did none of the lifeboats return to help survivors? The focus of the book was on Lady Lucille Duff Gordon, famed designer and her personal assistant Tess. Eye witnesses have stated Lady Duff Gordon bribed the crew to not pick up any other survivors on her lifeboat. Senator Smith is now investigating and hearings have begun.
The author did a great job blending stories about Tess and her perspective of Lady Duff Gordon, Pinky the reporter, the hearings and the love interests of Tess.
I would recommend this book for book clubs. The history of the Titanic and the survivors would be an interesting study. The moral dilemma around the social classes on the ship and who were saved would also lead to an interesting discussion.
Even though we know how the story ends, Ms Alcott does a wonderful job of bringing you into a new aspect of the sinking of the Titanic with interesting storylines. As next year will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking I would recommend this read to those who enjoy historical fiction.
Linda Z. (Corydon, IN)
I enjoyed this book very much. In fact, I read it in two days, staying up until after midnight to finish it. The author approached the Titanic disaster with a new perspective. The moral questions could lead to some interesting discussions in a book club setting as well as the question of loyalty to an employer. Where is the stopping point? The historical aspect was covered very well from descriptions to the technical. I would recommend it to most readers especially those interested in historical novels. I have found as a former high school librarian that teenagers are interested in disasters of this type and I think they would find this book of interest.