Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by Linda Z. (Corydon, IN) The Dressmaker
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.
Rated of 5
by Terri H. (Battle Ground, washington) The Dressmaker
I was looking forward to a new twist on the Titanic "genre." Unfortunately, The Dressmaker was a highly predictable, same ole', same ole'--the ships sinks, which guy should I be with? and my, oh my whatever career should I choose? Typical Titanic novel. Disappointing at best.
Rated of 5
by Mary D. (Claremont, CA) The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
There has always been a fascination and mystique surrounding the sinking of the Titanic. So many different elements: the "arrogance" of the shipping company in calling the ship Unsinkable, the class distinctions, the chivalry, especially in the first and second class gentlemen, yet the horror of knowing that steerage passengers were essentially "locked in." So many stories...one would wonder what more could be covered. In The Dressmaker, we are introduced to two strong women, Tess Collins who hires on as a maid to Lady Duff Gordon, both survivors of the sinking. Needless to say, one is quite admirable and the other turns out to be a "victim" of her class and acts accordingly during traumatic circumstances. What was especially interesting to me is the coverage of the investigations into the sinking of the Titanic that took place in New York, the accounts of the crew members, how true heroes were villified by those trying to save their own skins, and how the survivors suffered from guilt, and how the public reacted to the survivors once the initial shock had worn off. This is a view of this tragedy that isn't covered...what happened after the survivors reached the shore. An interesting side note: currently at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas is the Titanic Exhibition, complete with a section of the ship (you can really get an idea of how huge the ship was) and many, many artifacts collected from the debris field. When you enter the exhibit, you are given a boarding pass for a person who sailed on the ship; at the end of the exhibit is a listing of all passengers and crew and you find your person and see if they survived or not. My husband received the card of a 3-year old boy who was traveling with his his brother and his father, who had kidnapped them from his estranged wife. They were traveling under the name of Hoffman, but their real name was Navratil; the boys survived, the father did not. In The Dressmaker, Tess is handed two small boys, by their father who begs her to save them. She takes them with her on the lifeboat...the Navratil boys!
Rated of 5
by Florence K. (Encino, California) The Dressmaker
An interesting premise, a quick read, a slice of 100 year old history -- these elements should have made for an excellent book, but The Dressmaker misses the mark. The sections dealing with the Titanic tragedy and the Senate investigations are well done. The book is weakened by a hackneyed love triangle: poor young woman, wealthy older man, poor young man. One can easily anticipate the outcome. Moreover the writing style was flat and full of fluff and lacking much literary depth. I give it 31/2 stars.
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