Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

Posted by Caitie F on September 17, 2012

Title: The Dressmaker
Author: Kate Alcott
Hardcover: 306 pages
Pub Date: Feb 12, 2012
Publisher: Doubleday
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

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.

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.

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.


After such a slow book, I wanted to read something fast and this was a great choice! There were a lot of Titanic books this year and I was avoiding them for the most part since I was really interested in the Titanic sinking as a kid. I didn’t really want to read yet another stor of the sinking.But then I saw this book and saw that it was mostly a historical novel about after the ship was sunk and the survivors were on American soil. That was something different and something I could be interested in.

For the most part, it was a really enjoyable book. It was much deeper than i thought it would be. It looked at the class differences in a fresh way, it looked at the whole idea of women and children first, and it looked at how someone could live with themselves when they survived and so many others did not. It was also a feminist book thanks to the amazing character of female journalist Pinky., which is probably why I enjoyed it so much!

While I liked the main caracter, Tess, a lot, I didn’t like the love triangle she was in because I could not see the real appeal of one of the men until the end of the book. I got that he was fancy and stuck up for her once…but it seemed pretty obvious what she should do and I got very annoyed with her pretty easily. But other than that she had a wonderful story.

This book was much better than I expected it to be. I found myself torn, much like the characters. Some people did some pretty horrible things to get into a lifeboat and once they were in them, so it is very easy to despise them. On the other hand, the were terrified and thinking on their feet. Who knows how any of us would act. Sure, we would like to wish we would all be heroes, but when actually faced with it, maybe not. It made me think about things in a much more complex way.

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy strong female characters and a historical fiction book that can make you rethink things.


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