Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott is one the bundle of growing books about the Titanic as we remember that fateful voyage 100 years later.  Tess, the main character, is an aspiring dressmaker and designer who takes passage on the Titanic as designer Lady Lucille Duff Gordon's maid.   She catches the eye of both a sailor and a Chicago millionaire.  When the Titanic sinks, she finds herself in the boat of the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" while Lady Duff Gordon is rescued in a nearly empty boat. When the survivors arrive in New York, a hearing, led by Senator Smith, immediately ensues.  The hearing is covered by reporter Pinky Wade of the Times.

I loved the way the author spun this historical fiction.  The hearings were a fascinating tale of unpreparedness, selfishness, and fear.  The real characters such as Molly Brown, Senator Smith, and one I didn't know, Lady Duff Gordon, were delightfully interesting and vibrant.  The author did a stupendous job on addressing the guilt of the survivors.  I'll admit my ignorance.  This is the way I like to read history.  I tried to read the highly acclaimed 1776 by David McCullough but never made it through the 2nd chapter.  But now, I want to know more about "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" who really did row the lifeboat because the sailors argued over whose job it was.  

Unfortunately, I found two editing mistakes.  The writing wasn't as polished as it should have been.  Also, the romance portion of the story was lackluster.  The story really would have been fine without the romance.  

Lady Duff Gordon  Wikipedia

Evening Gown Design of Lady Duff Gordon.  Wikipedia

Lady Duff Gordon   Connections.smsd.org
Lady Duff Gordon Designs 1905   http://www.bbc.co.uk
Lady Duff Gordon on the Titanic   http://www.nmni.com/titanic
The Unsinkable Molly Brown Biography Picture
Margaret "Molly" Brown www.titanicuniverse.com

Senator Smith  http://www.astrosurf.com

I will give this book 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  If the writing and editing had been better and the romance more believable or just left out, I would have given this 5 stars.  The 3 1/2 stars are for the interesting historical facts about the hearings and the themes of how the survivors dealt with and justified their loss and guilt.

3.5 stars

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