Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

The Dressmaker
Author: Kate Alcott
Published: February 21, 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Hardcover: 306 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (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.

My Thoughts: The synopsis for the book sounded so intriguing that I had to pick it up. I'm not a big fan of the Titanic (the movie came out when I was in middle school, along with tons of books about it, so I burned out earlier in life), but I thought that I should give this one a try. Unfortunately, this book turned out to be a bit of a disappointment and remind me why I don't really like Titanic-based things. The portion of the book that takes place on the ship is alright, nothing remarkable. What happens afterwards is so jumpy and awful that I just kept on wishing that this story had ended onboard the ship.

The main character, Tess, is interesting, but she wasn't ever fully developed. She jumped from point A to point Z with no real explanation, just doing it. It left me really confused and not at all interested in her. Her employer was also confusing and her issues where never really resolved at the end of the novel, so once again, confusion. And the romance in the novel was awful. I wish that Kate Alcott had left it out so that Tess might have been able to grow more as a character.

Overall, this novel was a disappointment. Between the plot and the weak characters, it felt like a very difficult read. 


  1. It's a shame -- this book sounds promising, but if the character isn't developed, the whole story can fall apart. I appreciate your honest review! and I think I'll skip reading this one. :)

  2. I have been curious about The Dressmaker. I was planning on reading it at some point since we have a copy. My daughter purchased the book and she absolutely loved it. She could not put it down. The two of us have very different reading tastes. She is much younger than me and does not get hung up on some of the details like I do from time to time.
    Thank you for your review. With so many books on my TBR that I am anxious to read, I will put this one off for a little longer.

  3. Pooh. I was looking forward to this one when it first came out and your review is not the first one I've seen that said it didn't deliver. I own it already but I think this one will be moved farther down the TBR for now.