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The dressmaker : a novel
2012
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Tess (Female), Seamstress, Maid, Goes on the Titanic working as a dressmaker;
Genre
Historical
Fiction
Topics
History
Romantics
Love
Scandal
Titanic
Bribery
Murder
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Seamstress Tess Collins finds her way aboard the Titanic because the maid of renowned designer Lucile Duff Gordon missed the boat. Yet this is not your mother's Titanic story; the ship hits the iceberg on page 37, and the exodus of survivors happens swiftly. What ensues back in New York is an investigation instigated by a senator who wants to prove negligence on the part of the White Star line. New York Times reporter Sarah "Pinky" Wade, however, smells stories of the wealthy and privileged vs. the poor and wants to pin blame on Lucile. Meanwhile, a young sailor and an older businessman both fall in love with Tess, and her responses to them and to the woman who could help her realize her dreams are at the core of this recounting of the tragedy. VERDICT Taking the tale of the Titanic out of the frigid sea and docking it in the courtroom and early 20th-century New York gives the familiar story a fresh feel. Tess makes a praiseworthy heroine, torn between her loyalties to the woman she so admires and her own principles, but would two men declare their love after knowing Tess for so brief a time? One fewer suitor might have been more plausible. Still, an engaging first novel in this year of everything Titanic.-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

The class tensions, politics, and fashion of the heady 1910s collide in this disappointingly conventional novel set aboard the Titanic and in the aftermath of its sinking. Tenacious Tess Collins, a maid determined to use her seamstress skills to transcend her class, meets world-renowned fashion designer Lucile Duff Gordon just moments before boarding the majestic and doomed ship. Lucile's hesitant agreement to hire Tess as her personal maid sends both women on a life-altering trajectory of volatile friendship, convoluted mentoring, loyalty, and conflict, all of which comes to a head in the wake of their survival. The notoriety and familiarity of the Titanic story demands a fresh retelling, a challenge Alcott, in her fiction debut, doesn't quite meet. Plowing into an iceberg not only sinks the Titanic, it largely sinks Alcott's narrative, as she shifts focus to testimonies, politics, and "Pinky" Wade, a headstrong female journalist making her way in a chauvinistic world and stirring up trouble in Tess's life. Pinky and a handful of other side characters beleaguer rather than benefit the novel, although Alcott redeems her story with Tess, managing a sweetness that stops short of cloying in her heroine's ever-positive perseverance. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
<p> Just in time for the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes a vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young woman who survives the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy. <br>  <br> Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes.<br>  <br> Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess's sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon's questionable actions during the tragedy. Others--including the gallant Midwestern tycoon--are not so lucky.<br>  <br> On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic . Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period's glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.</p>
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