Sunday, January 29, 2012

Joint Review: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

by:  Kate Alcott
published by:  Doubleday
publish date:  February 21, 2012

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.

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  If you've been wondering why all the Titanic documentaries are suddenly all over the History Channel.  That's why.  There seems to be a few books coming out with a Titanic theme and The Dressmaker is one of them.  Kari and I were both really interested in reading this book.  We both got ARCs so yay!  Joint Review!

That was about the end of the happiness.  Disappointment is the word I would use to sum up this book.  I understand the book is supposed to be about what happened after the Titanic sank, but the sinking was minimal in its telling.  I understand that it would be hard to write about and capture the emotion and the tragedy, but I felt that it deserved a bit more focus than was given in the book.

The rest of the story, particularly the interaction between Tess and Lady Duff Gordon just seemed uninteresting to me.  I thought Lady Duff aka "Madame" was ridiculous.  Could a person really be so horrible?  Of course they could, but be so horrible and still navigate uppity society?

One positive I will give this book is that it does appear to be well researched.  Props to Kate Alcott for that.

While it didn't make my most anticipated list, I had been looking forward to trying this book out.  The reviews looked pretty good.  In the end, I was disappointed.  I usually give a book at least 50 pages to draw me in before I give up on it.  I gave this one 48.  For some reason, I just couldn't get interested in it.  

I've never really been a huge fan of taking historical events and weaving fictitious characters into them.  For this reason alone, I've never seen the movie Titanic.  But, I am always willing to broaden my horizons when it comes to reading. So, I gave it a shot.  

I didn't find the characters compelling or really care enough about them to want to read more about them.  I also found the book dull and not something I was compelled to finish.  Fans of the history of Titanic may like this book and should probably give it a try.  It just wasn't for me.


Ashley Prince said...

I'm sorry this book disappointed. :( I heard a bit about it at Barnes & Noble when talking to my managers. I hope we get an ARC. I would still like to read it.

I was wondering why Titanic documentaries were popping up. Now I know. :)

Autumn said...

I hope some people do still read it, because I'd like to hear what other people think about it!

Ashley Prince said...

I will be sure to let you know once I read it. :D

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

Disappointing! I have an e-ARC and I've really been looking forward to this as a lover of historical fiction and the Titanic. Hopefully I'll like it a bit more.

Cialina at said...

Aw man! Sorry to hear that this one didn't live up to your expectations. I don't really read a lot of adult historical so I might not bother picking this one up. :/