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The Dressmaker's Dowry

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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,907 ratings  ·  301 reviews
For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmake ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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AngieA Agreed. There were lots of issues with the whole thing, not the least of which was it had nothing to do with a dowry!

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3.67  · 
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 ·  1,907 ratings  ·  301 reviews


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Cindy Burnett
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

The Dressmaker’s Dowry is a highly entertaining read. The story takes place in San Francisco, one of my favorite places to visit, in two different time periods, the mid-1870’s and present day. Sarah Havensworth is working on her thesis and struggling to find a topic that spurs her to write. She stumbles upon an article about two missing dressmakers in the 1870’s who were believed to be murdered, decides to pursue the story for her thesis, and begins researching and visiting places from
...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites


From San Francisco 1876 to present day, we learn of the plight of the poor, the privilege of the wealthy, and secrets of a family that connect both eras.

Sarah married into a wealthy family and brought a secret with her that she never revealed to her husband. Her husband's family had a secret too, but he was unaware of it. Or was he?

Sarah was writing her thesis and came across two dressmakers, Hannalore and Margaret, who lived in1876 and who fascinated her because of the story of their lives.

As S
...more
The Lit Bitch
A popular theme in historical fiction is dual storylines. Typically one is told in the present day and the other in the past.

In my latest novel up for review, The Dressmaker’s Dowry, this same theme makes an appearance.

I often find that the dual storylines approach to historical fiction novels tend to work well and in this novel I think it was interesting and helped move the story along nicely. It gives the reader kind of the best of both worlds and often appeals to a wider audience and those wh
...more
Kristin
I was pretty excited for this book because I love parallel narratives and I enjoy historical fiction that takes place in San Fransisco, for some reason. And I did enjoy reading about the immigrant experience of Hannelore and Margaret, even if it seemed a little whitewashed and generally of the"historical fiction lite" variety. On the other hand, I just couldn't get invested in Sarah's modern story at all because her whole life just seemed, well, fictional. I don't really know how to explain it, ...more
Letty
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This indeed is a gripping read from page 1 until the end. The story takes place in San Francisco in two different timelines, 1876 and the present. Very detailed description of events during the 1876 timeline that I found it to be my favorite part of the book. I felt I was time traveling to an era I did not know much about. This was a fast-paced book for me and it was so engaging that I really found it difficult to put down. Thankfully the Christmas holiday was over so I was able to forget other ...more
Zoe
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Intriguing, thought-provoking and heartwarming!

This story is told from two different perspectives. One is that of Sarah, a young woman who stumbles upon an unsolved mystery from the 1870s while working on her thesis. And the other is Hanna, a young woman struggling to survive and raise her siblings in a time when women had no rights and few options.

It is, ultimately, a story about loneliness, loss, injustice, determination, strength, tragedy, guilt, and love.

The writing is smooth. The characters
...more
Ashley
Sep 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this. I don't. I'm sure it has an audience. I think what it really comes down to is I genuinely dislike Sarah, and she's the main character.

There is zero communication in the marriage of Sarah and Hunter. He's supporting her while she writes her novel. Only, not only is she not writing that novel, but when she decides she's going to do something else she doesn't tell him at all. I'm not saying she needs to ask permission, but in front of his parents might not be the time
...more
Suzanne
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A modern woman, faced with her MFA thesis deadline, finds herself drawn to a 140-year old newspaper headline about two missing young women in San Francisco. Rather than complete her previous project, Sarah changes course and decides to pursue a new one, about the two missing seamstresses. Little does she realize that the story will ultimately circle around and touch her in-laws today, a family of wealth that has resided in San Francisco for more than 150 years. The story occurs across two timeli ...more
Meredith Jaeger
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This is my first novel, and I loved the process of writing it. Thank you for taking the time to read and review. I appreciate it!
Kristen
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was only okay for me. If it wasn't a quick read, I probably wouldn't have finished it. The two stories in 2 different time periods didn't mesh well and the storyline ended rather abruptly and a bit too neatly.
Sue
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent debut historical novel from Meredith Jaeger. The novel is well written and extremely interesting and once I started it, I had trouble putting it down again. The novel takes place in San Francisco and is the story of Hanna, a German immigrant working as a dressmaker in 1876 and Sarah in present day trying to complete her thesis. She originally planned to write a novel but when she finds a story about two missing dressmakers from 1876, her interest was sparked and she decided ...more
Jenny
Apr 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I gave this book a 3 because parts of it were interesting in a historical way but the characters were flat and some were not interesting.
Alyssa Palombo
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A compelling dual-timeline story with a mystery at its heart that will keep you turning the pages until its conclusion. San Francisco, past and present, came alive for me with Jaeger's vivid descriptions. Looking forward to more from this author!
Micebyliz
What did i think? it was a good idea for a story that was written badly with a lot of errors.
I started keeping notes after i noticed a few of them. (not that i don't make errors-i just think if you write a book you should keep it to a minimum)
p.5 it's modern day, yet her husband "let" her quit her day job. really? is this 1950?
p.6 she is "pretty enough for WI" but not California? really? what is that supposed to mean?
p.27 the dressmakers in the past would know what women wear to the opera? they
...more
Lynn
Apr 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Had I not bought this book, I well might not have finished it. The plot synopsis sounds promising: A woman in modern day San Francisco starts researching and finds unexpected connections to a girl in 1876 San Francisco.

Dealing with the 1876 storyline, it is a rather facile look into the lives of the working class in the 19th century. The dialogue is ridiculous and the vocabulary stilted and artificial. My son and I are both voracious readers and despise repeated phrases that are used to invoke a
...more
Scottsdale Public Library
This is a lovely historical novel that follows the lives of two women; Hannelore Schaeffer and Sarah Havensworth. Both live in San Francisco; one in 1876, the other in present day. Hannelore is an immigrant working as a seamstress in the grimy, poverty-stricken Barbary Coast in 1876. With her mother dead, three siblings to look after, and a drunk and abusive father. Hannelore only has her best friend Margaret O’Brien to confide in. Then Margaret goes missing and Hannelore vows to find out what h ...more
Darlene Ferland
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Meredith Jaeger's The Dressmaker's Dowry is a riveting story that leaves the reader mesmerized with each turn of the page. Set in 1876 San Francisco and the present day in the same city, the story entails the disappearance of two immigrant dressmakers and the difficulties living with drunken fathers and caring for younger siblings with a modern day writer working on her thesis. The wealthy Havensworth family is part of the fabric of each time period. Ms. Jaeger has woven a story where Hannelore ...more
Deborah O'Regan
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought this book was going to be much better. Two stories one set in present day San Francisco and one set in San Francisco of 1876. Both were ok. I only read it to get a feel of San Francisco as I go there soon so it served it propose.
Pamela Jo
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An Outstanding Debut Novel!

Set in San Francisco, “The Dressmaker’s Dowry” takes place in 1876 and also in present day. Meredith Jaeger does an excellent job weaving both time periods together to tell a story of love, betrayal, tragedy, and triumph. This is the author’s first novel and I found it to be an outstanding read!

Sarah Havensworth is married to the son of wealthy parents whose family has played a major role in San Francisco society for generations. She is working on her MFA thesis, but h
...more
Wendie Berry
Jul 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was one of those books I had to force myself to finish reading. It basically has two stories going. The present day main character, Sarah is researching the disappearance of two dressmakers in 1870 San Francisco. Sarah's story is shallow and terribly cliche. Her relationship with her husband sounds like it was written by a 12 year old.
The secondary story, of the two missing dressmakers, is much more interesting, but also not well developed. Had the author concentrated on the historical sto
...more
Caryn
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour
Becky Hutchison
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
THE DRESSMAKER'S DOWRY, by Meredith Jaeger, is an appealing and unique story of love, survival, and secrets. Set in San Francisco, it alternates between modern times and 1876.

The story begins in the present day and is told in first person, past tense. Sarah Havensworth is a grad student trying to write a novel for her MFA thesis. She's stuck with her story about life in the late 19th century's Barbary Coast and hasn't written anything in several weeks. Not only does she feel like a fraud beca
...more
dubh
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Die Autorin Meredith Jaeger hat aufgrund ihrer eigenen Wurzeln Deutsch gelernt und ist dabei auf die Geschichte für den hier vorliegenden Roman gestoßen. Sie lebt in der 'City by the Bay' - der Stadt an der Westküste der Vereinigten Staaten, in der auch ihr Buch spielt.

Sarah Havensworth ist glücklich mit Hunter verheiratet und lebt mit ihm in San Francisco. Die finanzielle Lage ihres Mannes erlaubt es Sarah, anstelle einer Arbeit einem Studium nachzugehen und an einem Roman zu arbeiten.
Bei der
...more
Joann
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a Goodread's Giveaway and from William Morrow. I anxiously awaited this book as I thought it would be a book that I could give glowing reports about. Jaeger weaves her mystery over two timelines, luring the reader into a riveting tale of intrigue and suspense. Blending the past and present together through strong descriptions and colorful, exciting characters, the author creates an engaging novel. I loved reading about San Francisco in 1876 and the author paints a vivid pictur ...more
Charlotte Lynn
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Two women, two storylines, and two different era’s. Hanna, 1876, and Sarah, present time, are entirely different women with entirely different lives. Hanna is poor, working to feed and clothe her siblings and keep her drunk father from abusing them. Sarah has married well and is working on her thesis. The thesis is what pulls these two stories together. Sarah’s thesis is the story of Hanna and Margaret, Hanna’s friend who goes missing.

There were times that I wondered exactly how these two stori
...more
Margaret Higgins
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
should have made he past the whole story. written past to present instead of skipping back and forth
Betty
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tbi-book-club
San Francisco was and is a city of many cultures and has a fascinating history. Thus, being a fan of historical fiction, I was quickly drawn into this story that alternated between present day San Francisco and 1876 San Francisco.

Sarah Havensworth, a former journalist, married into the wealthy Havensworth family. They seem to have the perfect marriage; however, as always, one of them has a secret. Sarah had planned to tell Hunter her dark and painful secret before they got married; however, the
...more
Good Book Fairy
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
3.5
For more reviews visit www.goodbookfairy.com
The Dressmaker’s Dowry is a fast paced historical mystery and romance wrapped up in chick lit. I flew through this novel and learned quite a bit about San Francisco’s early history. That was an unexpected treat.

The author’s own engagement ring from 1903 was the inspiration for this parallel time period novel. I’ll start by saying that I was more connected to the historical aspect of this story. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m a big fan of histori
...more
Ricki Treleaven
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is not bad for a first novel! Jaeger's well-researched vision of Victorian San Francisco is compelling and inspiring. I appreciate well-researched historical fiction, and I often put down the book and Googled several locations mentioned in the story both from the past and in the present. Hanna's story is much more interesting, and Hanna is a more fully developed character than Sarah. There are several mysteries and questions between both storylines, and there is plenty of suspense to k ...more
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Meredith Jaeger is the USA Today Bestselling Author of BOARDWALK SUMMER and THE DRESSMAKER'S DOWRY. She's a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and she wrote her debut novel while working for a San Francisco startup.

THE DRESSMAKER'S DOWRY has been called "deliciously satisfying" and "impossible to put down" by New York Times bestselling author Lori Nelson Spielman and "A compelling debut novel th
...more
“Hanna reached for Margaret's hand, knowing nothing she could say would bring comfort. Margaret would never see her grandmother again. Nor would Hanna see her Oma, who had wept when Hanna boarded the ship for America, waving goodbye for the last time. Only the elderly and frail were left behind. And letters from home were not the same as a warm laugh or a cup of tea shared on a cold day.” 1 likes
“Margaret looked at the ring on her finger. "Gran gave me this before we boarded the ship. It's the most special thing in the world to me. I'll never take it off, Hanna. No matter how hungry I am.” 1 likes
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