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The Dressmaker

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  21,201 Ratings  ·  3,134 Reviews
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.

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Doubleday (first published 2012)
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May 25, 2012 Cris rated it did not like it
I am disappointed in this book. Despite the inherently dramatic and heart-rending disaster at the heart of the story, Alcott created a story lacking in emotion.

Maybe I've been watching too much Downtown Abbey, but Tess didn't ring true at all. This young woman was raised in England and had been in service for at least a year; she should have been well aware of the expected behaviors and privileges associated with the different classes. Alcott could have created a character who was rebelling aga
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I have started to review Kate Alcott's The Dressmaker a hundred times and a hundred times I've thrown up my hands in frustration. Focusing on content alone makes it impossible to understand where I am coming from, but examining my experience with the book also leaves quite a bit out. Apologies, but this might be a little long winded.

It seems like a lifetime ago, but like so many I went through a Tita
Aug 11, 2014 Aoibhínn rated it really liked it
Set in 1912, The Dressmaker tells the story of Tess Collins, an aspiring dressmaker, who manages to find a job working for the world renowned dress designer Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon as a maid while she and her husband travel to America on board the Titanic. On board the ship, Tess meets two men, one an older but handsome Millionaire and the other an attractive, kind and good-hearted sailor and develops feelings for both of them. This is a tale about the aftermath of the disaster and about Tess, h ...more
Sep 07, 2016 Kristy rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, realistic
Look at this cover!!!! It's gorgeous right?
I was really expecting a romantic, titanic tale with some rich designer or something. This was pretty good, but it wasn't that....

In a nutshell this is a fictional story trying to answer why did only one life-boat go back to rescue overboard passengers from the titanic. Alcott really focuses in on one boat in particular- Lifeboat #1, the Duff-Gordon's boat.
I am warning you I think I am about to go on a "Kristy Ramble".

This book was very informative, li
Mar 05, 2012 MissSusie rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book even with the romance storyline; it made me want to do research on what happened after the sinking of the Titanic and to learn more about the survivors, which to me is what makes a good historical fiction book. We all know the story of the sinking of the Titanic but I for one knew almost nothing about the aftermath, the scandal of what happened on the lifeboats, and the senate hearings.

This book is about more than just the aftermath of the Titanic but that is the backdro
The basic plot outline: Tess Collins chafes at the life as a servant, and wants to realize her true skills as a seamstress, and whilst looking for opportunities at the dock she catches the attention of Lucile Duff Gordon. Lady Lucy is minus a maid at the last minute, Tess gets the gig and before you know it servant Tess is out of steerage and walking the main decks of the Titanic, literally *bumping* into folks left and right (including the very wealthy and still married Jack Bremerton).

I think
Alisa Kester
Mar 27, 2012 Alisa Kester rated it did not like it
This should have been a slam-dunk for me, since I *am* a dressmaker and a hard-core Titanic enthusiast. But no.

Flat, unlikable characters (the more I was obviously supposed to like them, the less I did) and the most boring retelling of an incredible story I've ever read. Couldn't even get through it all; by the middle I was just skimming. This book suffers from the worst sort of historical writing error - that of giving everyone a 'modern' sensibility. Plus, I hated how the author tried to creat
Mar 20, 2012 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: audiobook from my local library.

I read this book because I got into a discussion with Misfit about the likelihood of heroine Tess having a close relationship with the employer to whom she was supposed to be a maid. And then it's about the Titanic, and we really need more novels about the Titanic. No, seriously, it hasn't been mined out.

So, the plot: Tess is desperate to get away from life as a maid and fulfill her destiny as a seamstress. Fortunately she miraculously bumps
Clare Cannon
Jul 09, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults & Young Adults (females)
Shelves: young-adult, adults
Here is a sweet historical romance, and though it is light on realism and tends towards idyllic fiction, several slightly deeper themes make the sweetness more satisfying. It offers a refreshing middle-path between new fiction which leans towards the sadder extremes of human experience and that which artificially sweetens it for pure escapism. In this respect it reminded me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, though that comparison shouldn't be taken too far.

The plot, which fol
May 08, 2012 Christina rated it it was ok
A dressmaker myself, I was intrigued when I saw this book and bought it without reading any reviews. It starts off like your typical sappy romance novel--plucky, beautiful (of course), lower-class heroine gets implausibly lucky, starts a new life, meets hunky rich (of course) men who instantly adore her, etc--then tries to aim higher, with themes of guilt and responsibility and class conflict. I'll give the author credit for trying, even though the novel is not really successful in exploring ...more
May 11, 2012 Nicole rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People with an interest in Titanic; people who enjoy light historical fiction.
I've been a Titanic nut since I was nine or ten. Initially I just jumped on the James Cameron's Titanic bandwagon, but soon it turned into something more. Sixteen years later, I have a fascination with the catastrophe. So I was very, very excited when I found this on my library's Fortunate Finds shelf circa the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

The novel begins in Cherbourg, when Tess is picked up by Lady Duff Gordon and given passage on the Titanic. Tess is a maid with the ultimate goal of becom
Lisa Kay
Controversial picture of Lord & Lady Duff-Gordon, her secretary, and the other members of Lifeboat 1.

(This is a review of the audiobook.) Sorry, this one was just okay for me. Susan Duerden does a nice job, but not outstanding. Her best sessions were when she was narrating the Titanic aftermath hearing. I didn’t think she did the right accent for Tess, the heroine. I’ve heard her reading before and liked her; nonetheless, this time didn't wow me. Of course, it didn’t help that I wasn’t cra
Dec 16, 2011 Judith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Tess Collins walked away from a thankless housemaid job in 1912....and simultaneously found employment as a maid on the soon-to-be sailing Titanic ocean liner...little did she know that History would become a major part of her life

Given that the hearings, post "sinking", are a major part of this story, the actual trials are secondary to the social aspects....even the newly minted Suffragette Movement is given a back seat to the development of Tess' story, and character (such
Jun 11, 2013 Amy rated it did not like it
I can't help it. I just keep thinking "Where are Jack & Rose?" Tess ends up in Molly Brown's lifeboat...of course. Am I the only one that feels like her lifeboat should be voted "most referenced Titanic lifeboat" in historical Titanic fiction? Tess even pulls 2 lifeless bodies from the sea into the infamous "never full" lifeboat. I have a feeling I would be enjoying this story a lot more if she had managed to rescue Jack & Rose from the frigid cold sea in Molly Brown's lifeboat. I would ...more
Jan 05, 2013 Britany rated it it was ok
I really wanted more from this book than I got.

The Dressmaker is set around the sinking of the Titanic. The characters are based on actual people that were involved and rode on the destined ship. I am always eager to read novels set in this time period and also including details from this tragic incident. The premise for this book follows Tess, who gets onboard the Titanic after getting a job offer as a maid for Lady Duff Gordon, a famous dressmaker.

Most of the book follows the aftermath of the
I eagerly anticipated the release of this book and was excited to find it offered on the Vine. I love the cover art and the graphic heading at the beginning of each chapter adds a nice touch to the aesthetic appeal of the book. The basis of the story is compelling and historically accurate, which gives it further interest.

Tess Collins, an aspiring seamstress, has landed a job working for the world renown designer Lucille Duff Gordon, just as Lady Gordon is boarding the Titanic. Once on board Te
Book Sp(l)ot
Mar 03, 2012 Book Sp(l)ot rated it it was amazing
We all know of the Titanic, the Unsinkable Ship that struck and iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912. The ship, touted as the greatest ship ever built has had numerous novels written about it - and the eponymous film we've seen so many times made about it. What most of us don't know is what after the sinking of the RMS Titanic. That's where The Dressmaker comes in.

Tess Collins' is looking for a way to escaping working for the family that employs her when she runs to the docks the day the Titanic i
Maureen Timerman
Feb 21, 2012 Maureen Timerman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-read
It's now almost 100 years since the Unsinkable Titanic sunk. This book is based on some true rather sad facts of what happened on this doomed cruise.
The story opens with Tess Collins escaping her job, supposed to be a seamstress, but is a more of a general maid. She knows a ship is sailing and hopes to secure any kind of a position to get on and get away from England. There her fateful adventure is about to begin. It's an eye opening world for her as she goes about in First Class on the ship, sh
This book wasn't anywhere near as good as I had hoped it would be.

I was quite excited to read a story about the Titanic. I have long been fascinated by this part of history and had recently visited a Titanic museum, which awakened my curiosity and made this book seem all the more interesting!

The story started out pretty good, I thought, and I did enjoy it at first (even though parts of it were wholly unbelievable). The sinking of the ship made me cry, even though I didn't think it would because
Oct 11, 2012 Cindy rated it it was ok
The tragedy of the Titanic sinking is a moneymaker. Films, documentaries, books-there's a plethora of material out there. Kate Alcott says, in the afterword, that what drove her to add to this collection was the question, "Why did only one boat go back?" It's an interesting question, really an interesting look into mankind and its will to survive, even at the sacrifice of others. Had the book done this, had it really looked and evaluated everything, I would have loved it. Unfortunately, it falls ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Arwen56 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
La vicenda del famoso transatlantico “Titanic” mi ha sempre affascinata. Non so proprio dire il perché. Forse per l’ironia della sorte che ha voluto che la nave orgogliosamente dichiarata inaffondabile sia colata a picco proprio durante il viaggio inaugurale. O forse perché il “Titanic” rappresenta la fine di un’epoca, il momento esatto in cui gli dei tramontano, un Götterdämmerung che potrebbe essere un nuovo inizio, ma anche, purtroppo, il prosieguo di una strada che conduce al baratro (e di l ...more
Mar 17, 2013 Brooke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Kate Alcott has hands down written a very good story.

Having the story surrounded by the beautiful Titanic, and a wonderful mix of characters that were actually apart of history made this read even more of a pleasure. From their first steps onto the ship of dreams to the devastating sinking into the black waters; I could vividly see all perspectives: from a poor maid wanting more in life and a dream in a world of fashion, a gifted wood carver, a famously rude and selfish designer, and two profess
3.5 stars. Not my usual cup of tea, which is why I read it. It got bogged down a bit in the middle and got a little heavy-handed with theme near the end, but it was an overall solid read.

I especially appreciated that this book went beyond surviving the sinking of the Titanic and examined what came next--survivor guilt, media frenzy, hearings full of lies and half-truths, etc.

The book follows enough characters that even though they occasionally felt flat or annoyed me, the POV was switched up oft
Sep 25, 2013 Cherie rated it really liked it
For a Historical Fiction, I thought the story was pretty good. I liked the characters and who knows, it COULD HAVE really happened to the main characters involved. I liked the ending, but will not give it away. It keeps you guessing, right up until the end. It was very easy to read and moved right along without a lot of boring detail. There were a couple of points I think could have been cleared up between the sisters.

About the author's note regarding the last surviving member of the Titanic pa
Not only is this absolute junk, but the narration is horrible. The reader's cadence is the same for every single sentence. Every single sentence--whether describing the sinking of the Titanic, a woman's red parasol, or a compact full of face powder. It got so that I couldn't hear the words she was saying, I was just listening for some let-up in her tedious, repetitive delivery. I listened to this for 1 1/2 chapters. Then I quit. Schlock.
Jun 18, 2012 Stefani rated it liked it
Shelves: hardcover, swapped
This book fascinated me when I read the synopsis and saw the cover. It looked like a whole new take on writing about the Titanic since it was mostly about this girl Tess Collins...not about the Titanic. She is a maid in Cherbourg and decides that she is going to get aboard the Titanic and start a new life in America as a seamstress. After running into the famous fashion designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordan, she is hired to be her maid aboard the ship. Tess accepts and looks forward to making her ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Melodie rated it liked it
Tess Collins has big plans. She absolutely knows she is not cut out for service.So,she jumps ship leaving a house maid's position and wrangles herself a job as a lady's maid for the imperious Lucille Duff-Gordon,a famous dress designer. Lucille and her husband are bound for the States aboard the Titanic for the showing of Lucille's latest collection.Tess,with stars in her eyes,is sure she is off to make her own way in a new land.
On board the great ship, Tess is astounded by the wealth and the
I wasn't swept away by this book (pun intended). 2-1/2 stars rounded up.

This could have been a heart wrenching story, but it was one step up from a Harlequin Romance. If Kate Alcott had gotten rid of the love triangle, which added nothing to the story, and focused more on the drama of the inquiry it would have been more compelling.

The most interesting part of the story was the testimony at the inquiry. The author's note said that much of it was taken from the actual transcripts. There were some
Regina Lindsey
Advised by her mother to hold off marriage in an attempt to save Tess from the drudgery of the life she led, her mother also passed on her talent as an adroit seamstress. While Tess has managed to escape life in her hometown, she finds herself in the service of an overbearing mistress in Cherbourg, France. Determined to pursue her dreams she ultimately attaches herself to Lady Lucille Duff Gordon, a popular dress designer in the early 1900's and boards the Titanic.

I had a really hard time ratin
Nancy (NE)
Mar 19, 2013 Nancy (NE) rated it liked it
The Dressmaker is not an easy read to describe without going into personal biases. I don't care to read romance books, which is what this book felt like. Our protagonist ends the book unexpectedly, but further comment would involve spoilers. The historical information regarding the sinking of the Titanic, the Senate inquiry and scandal surrounding the famous fashion designer Lucile Duff Gordon were interesting reading. I found myself looking up factual information numerous times, just for ...more
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Kate Alcott is the pseudonym for journalist Patricia O’Brien, who has written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. As Kate Alcott, she is the author of The Dressmaker (a New York Times bestseller), The Daring Ladies of Lowell, and A Touch of Stardust. She lives in Washington, D.C.
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“Life is an act—most of it, anyway. Get out there today and pretend you’re in charge, for goodness’ sake. Do you hear me? Lift up your head and pretend.” A flicker of a smile passed over her face. “It’s the secret to everything.” 20 likes
“You have to humor them you know." Lucile sighed lightly as the door closed. "Men can be boring, but they are necessary. One needs to learn to work around them. Don't you think so?” 5 likes
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