The dressmaker : a novel by Kate Alcott

   Regina  Review by:  Regina

Title:  The dressmaker : a novel

Author:  Kate Alcott

Collection:  Adult Fiction

A friend of mine suggested the Dressmaker to me – she knows of my interest in anything Titanic – and I’m so glad she did so. I could not put this book down. At one point to my horror I looked at the clock and the digital display showed 2:30am. Morning was to come all too soon. Reluctantly I closed the cover until the next evening!

The Dressmaker tells of the other side of the Titanic story – what happens after. True events and historical hearings are set within the fictional story of a young maid named Tess, eager to escape her life of servitude in France, who is thrilled to find gainful employment with Lady Duff Gordon – a world renowned designer of women’s clothing. As they ship out on the Titanic, Tess is ready for her new life in America and hopes to learn more dressmaking skills from her new mentor. Within four days of studying the wealthy, learning of Lady Duff Gordon’s eccentric ways, and meeting two new men that will change her life, the doomed Titanic meets its well-known ending at the iceberg. With so few lifeboats, the wealthy, including Lady Duff Gordon and her husband, Cosmo, jump into one and Tess is fortunate to barely make it into another – clinging to two young lads whose father begged her to save. When the Carpathian finds the survivors and hauls them aboard, stories start to circulate of half empty lifeboats, survivors of the sinking but not gathered in the boats, of bribes/payoffs to the sailors, and men who cast themselves into the boats, foregoing the women and children. Once the rumors hit New York and Washington, DC they can no longer be hushed and the world has to come to terms with the inescapable moral aspects and cover-ups of the Titanic tragedy.

As I scorned those who lied, I ask myself what I would do in such a situation – I could only hope to act with honor and dignity, but none will know until confronted.

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