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!
Therese X. (CALERA, AL)
100 Year Old Disaster Viewed with Fresh Eyes
Young, talented Tess Collins learned the skill of the needle from her mother, but her father sends her out to work as a mere maid in a cold, uncaring English household. Defiantly determined to better her life as a professional dressmaker, she runs away after hearing that jobs are available on board a ship in port sailing soon for America. As she boards the "Titanic", her path crosses that of world-famous fashion designer, Lady Lucile Duff Cooper, who notices Tess and hires her as her maid, "on trial". This is the start of Tess's dream-come-true. Soon disaster strikes, and Tess barely makes it into the last lifeboat. Jim, a sailor,and one of Tess's other new on-board friends, escapes in the nearly empty lifeboat carrying the Duff Coopers who allegedly paid the rowers not to take on survivors from the water. Tess is unaware of this and sees only her life's dream of working for Lucile's huge fashion factory as an assistant. However, when the U. S. Senate forms an investigation into the reasons for the "Titanic" disaster, Lady Lucile comes under scrutiny and Tess must choose her loyalties carefully and according to her own mind and heart. Tess Collins is a marvelous heroine in a page-turning novel filled with real and vividly imagined characters and engrossing story lines. Reading the book, is more like watching a great historical film that's seen from a unique perspective. The author paints a great picture with words and readers can only hope that the feisty Tess will reappear in a sequel to The Dressmaker.
Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)
Made to Measure
Seamless historical fiction gathered around an unforgettable love story tucked into the hem of a real tragedy. What a compelling pleasure to read.
Christine S. (Highland, UT)
The Dressmaker is a book that I could not put down. Took notes on inspiring quotes that I wanted to remember! Outstanding character development. Soon, it will be 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic and the suffrage movement. We have come a long way. Timely and an Excellent read!
Kat F. (Palatine, IL)
I was surprised
I usually don't read historical fiction, so I think I may have checked the wrong book selection when trying to get a First Impression book. However, when I received the book, I felt a responsibility to read it and review. I am so glad I did.
I was pleasantly surprised by just how good this book actually is. It presented a solid and interesting view of the sinking of the Titanic, the terrible choices that passengers and crew alike must have had to make, and the personal as well as political spins put into play at the hearings. Although the author could have taken the path of "high drama" just for drama's sake, doing so would not have produced a book better than this one. Also interesting was how the author tied into the story other events going on at the time, that changed our country particularly as they related to women.
I couldn't put it down. I was left wondering what happened to the characters and wanting to know more about their subsequent lives -- always a sign of a really good book.
Patricia H. (Norman, OK)
Tragedy and Triumph
This would be a good read for teens as well as for adult women. Although not a romance story it is definitely a romantic story. The backdrop is tragic as the main characters are forced to examine their decisions, determine what is truth and live with the consequences.
Virginia B. (Forest Park, IL)
Loved this book from the start. I think anyone who has a fascination with the Titanic would really enjoy reading about the aftermath of the tragedy. Tess is a great character who has lots of spunk and desire to get what she really wants.