Book Review: The Dressmaker


Last night I finished 
The Dressmaker

And it was really good! 
I'd give it a go it you like historical fiction.
It's based on non fictional characters who survived the Titanic. 
Tess Collins is a servant girl who dreams of one day being a famous clothing designer and seamstress. The book opens with her impulsively quitting her job as a maid and finds herself on the dock that is boarding passengers on the Titanic. Fate leads her to literally bump into Lucille Duff Gordon, a world renown fashion designer who is boarding the ship. Lady Duff Gordon has just lost her personal servant and agrees to let Tess have the ticket and become her maid. 

I loved Tess' character right away and wanted to hate Lady Duff Gordon because she's a snotty pretentious type that is rude to her hubby and very entitled. But she has soft moments too and it's hard not to like her when she has tender moments of compassion towards Tess. You can see their bound changing as the book proceeds, sometimes they are confidants, sometimes mother/daughter.
Lady Lucille Duff Gordon
What happens when the ship sinks is the pinnacle that the rest of the story revolves around. Tess and Lady Duff Gordon survive, but the costs they have to pay are heavy once they get to the United States. It's an interesting look into what happened to the survivors and the choices they made in the moments of fear and desperation while they tried not to parish.

This is an actual photo (I think Lady Lucille Duff Gordon is the woman on the left). The taking of this photo is covered in the book. 
One thing I did not know about the Titanic is that after it sank, there were trials. Survivors, both shipmen and passengers, were called to witness and the White Star Line faced a lot of scrutiny.

The characters in the books are forced to testify about what happened in the lifeboats and there are secrets some try to keep and guilt some try to relieve. 

I loved Tess' determined spirit and another character, a reporter named Pinky, reminds me of a modern day girl. She's pushy and a crusader for women's rights. You'll root for her. 

The ending is triumphant and satisfying. The middle is easy going and thought provoking. 

The downside is that I think it just scratched the service and I think the author could have written in a more emotional voice when it came to the tragedy of the sinking ship...but that's a daunting task to undertake.



One added bonus in the book is the fashion. LOVE the 1900s fashion! Lots of details on the fabric and cut of gowns...and funny that showing your ankles was scandalous. Oh, if they could see us now!