The Dressmaker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dressmaker

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  14,689 ratings  ·  2,479 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...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dressmaker, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Dressmaker

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Cris
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...more
Erin
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...more
Ellie
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
Kristy
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...more
Misfit
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...more
MissSusie
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...more
Lis
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...more
Clare Cannon
Jul 09, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Jane
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...more
Nicole
May 11, 2012 Nicole rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Christina
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 the...more
Lisa Kay
Controversial picture of Lord & Lady Duff-Gordon, her secretary, and the other members of Lifeboat 1.
[image error]

★★★☆☆ (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...more
Judith
When Tess Collins walked away from a thankless housemaid job in Cherbourg...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...more
Amy
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
Barb
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...more
Kira
So, you've been intrigued by the the beautiful cover and plot description on this book and you're wondering if it'll live up to the hype.

Let me offer you my opinion:

No, it won't.

The Titanic movie came out when I was in highschool and I saw it three times in the theater. I didn't really feel the need to read a book about it since I had seen the story unfold in such detail on the big screen. However, I was intrigued by the premise of The Dressmaker, where we get to find out what happens to some of...more
Book Sp(l)ot
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...more
Maureen Timerman
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...more
Elena
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...more
Victoria
When I first started reading this book I felt the writing was unpolished, almost childish. Sometimes though it takes awhile to get into a different author so I persevered. The Titanic sunk and I had no tears, no feeling of emotion even. The storyline was flat. The characters never came alive and so much of who they were, how they acted and what was said was not only unbelievable but out of character for how the author wrote them to be. The novel continued that way until the end. I didn't believe...more
Brooke
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...more
Cindy
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
Britany
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...more
Nancy (NE)
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 curios...more
Janice
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...more
Melodie
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...more
Stefani
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 cro...more
Lynne Young
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I had assumed it was a book about a dressmaker travelling on the Titanic. While that was true it was not the complete focus of this book.Tess Collins, an aspiring fashion designer, finds herself unexpectedly travelling on the Titanic as a maid to Lady Lucile Duff Gordon. While able to enjoy the perks of first class Tess meets 2 gentlemen who will play a major part in her life, both on and off the ship.

Much of the book is written after the sinking and the...more
Cherie
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...more
Samantha
I really, really, really wanted to like this book but somehow I just couldn't get into it. I struggled to make my way through this book full of melodrama, some historical inaccuracies, and mediocre characters. The main reason why I was excited to read this book was because it uses the Titanic in it's plot line. Instead of getting to the good stuff (the trials), the author focuses on Tess's feelings for two men and of course the characters fell flat. So why should I care about them. I just felt l...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court
  • The Rebel Wife
  • The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile
  • The Sister Queens
  • The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria's Defiant Daughter
  • Bridge of Scarlet Leaves
  • Four Sisters, All Queens
  • The House of Velvet and Glass
  • The Turning of Anne Merrick
  • The Second Duchess
  • The Girl Who Came Home
  • Becoming Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette, #1)
  • At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
  • The Baker's Daughter
  • Rivals in the Tudor Court
  • The Book of Madness and Cures
  • The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great (Catherine, #1)
  • The September Queen
5052587
Kate Alcott, a pseudonym for author Patricia O'Brien, was a newspaper reporter in Chicago and covered politics in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon, is married, and the mother of four daughters.
More about Kate Alcott...
The Daring Ladies of Lowell La ricamatrice di segreti: Assaggi d'autore gratuiti A Touch of Stardust: A Novel

Share This Book

“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.” 11 likes
“Trouble? Everybody gets into trouble in America -- That's what it's about.” 4 likes
More quotes…