curvy*mommy's corner

Book Review: The Dressmaker: A Novel by Kate Alcott

Posted on: May 24, 2012

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With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic being recognized this year (“celebrated” doesn’t seem an appropriate word to use here), there is a slew of Titanic-themed fiction and non-fiction being released over the next few months. The Dressmaker is one of those novels.

I found this story of an aspiring dressmaker/maid who is brought on to the Titanic at the last minute to be engaging, and a fresh take on the Titanic story. Tess Collins runs away from her position as a maid in Cherbourg, France and ends up on the dock before the sailing of the Titanic. In an unlikely turn of events, she is hired on the spot by the aristocratic Lady Duff-Gordon, famous dressmaker and head of the House of Lucile.

Tess is thrilled and honored that Lady Duff Gordon has hired her as her maid, and hopes to parlay that good fortune into one day becoming a dressmaker herself. What she doesn’t bargain for is the sinking of the Titanic, and the reprecussions of events in a lifeboat that continue to have an impact on her and Lady Duff Gordon’s lives long after they have been rescued.

Like any good romance, Tess ends up with two suitors – the good-hearted but poor sailor Jim Bonney, and the rich, aristrocratic divorcee Jack Bremerton. Her involvement with Mr. Bremerton (the rich older man) again seems somewhat unlikely. It’s these types of things that prevented me from giving this book more than 3.5 stars, in that I just couldn’t find some of the things that happen to Tess to be believeable.

Still, if you can look past those things, you’ll find this an interesting piece of historical fiction, that keeps you intrigued until the end. If you enjoy Titanic-themed fiction, I’d definitely recommend picking this one up.


Reviewed for the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. Advanced Reading Copy provided courtesy of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.


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