Jennifer's Reviews > The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
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Apr 20, 2012

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bookshelves: read-2012
Read from April 20 to 22, 2012

I don't read a lot of historical fiction, not because I don't like it, but more because I've attempted some that were just too unwieldy. Plus I find myself more comfortable about reading about times and events in history that I'm fairly familiar with so that I can be sure that there are facts supporting the fiction. (What can you expect? I come from a long line of history buffs and married a social studies teacher!) I'll admit I was leery of The Dressmaker. There are so many Titanic related books out there and so few of them are good... or even close to accurate.

I found Kate Alcott's focus on the aftermath refreshing. There is much to be said about the aftermath of his tragedy that rocked the Western hemisphere. It was a period in America marked with progress and that certain invincibility that comes with boundless opportunity. Although Ms. Alcott barely scratches the surface of the despicable dealings of the White Star Line with the inquest. She focuses mainly upon Ismay who was culpable and contemptible in his own right but chooses to skim over their many other injustices. (Did you know that the bereaved families of the musicians were charged for their unreturned uniforms?!?) But the story she chooses to tell is an interesting one. Can you assign blame? When faced with tragedy on that scale are your actions heroic, cowardly, unnecessarily risky, or downright selfish?

I was glad to see references made to the stories I knew, and glad she chose to include certain unavoidable characters. I would have loved to have seen more of Margaret Brown in the story... And perhaps some of Lady Astor, but I digress. I love that she used actual transcripts form the hearings, with some minor exceptions, and that she captured the scope of the survivors guilt and, in some cases, unabashed defiance.

I can honestly say that I never fully understood Lady Duff Gordon. Though she was a real survivor, she never really came together for me as a character. Ms. Alcott gave her plenty of back story, being self-made and suffering many hardships, but I just couldn't grasp her. Perhaps it's the fine line between genius and insanity, but Madame Lucille definitely came off as slightly deranged. I understand Tess' loyalty and her conflicted convictions when it came to her employer. Though I enjoyed the character of Pinky, I was never sure where she stood, especially on the subject of Jim. Next to 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown', I think Elinor was probably the character that I liked best. As for the romance, it seemed to be forced human interest; the Jack Bremerton storyline was far fetched, though it served as a valiant literary device.

While I think Kate Alcott did a great job of blending fact and fiction, I'm not sure how much I would have enjoyed this book if it wasn't a subject I was interested in and knew so much about. Or perhaps that's the problem, perhaps I have too much appreciation of the facts. I would be certainly be willing to read another book by Ms. Alcott, because her research is fantastic.

READ MORE: http://www.girlsjustreading.blogspot....
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Reading Progress

04/20/2012 page 11
4.0%
04/22/2012 page 128
42.0% "#amreading"

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