The Dressmaker

By Kate Alcott
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780307948199, 384pp.)

Publication Date: January 2013

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Hardcover

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the March 2012 Indie Next List
“A young housemaid quits her job and is chosen at the last minute to accompany a great fashion designer on the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic. They both survive the sinking, but the designer and her husband make questionable choices in their lifeboat, which are not well received in the public eye. The reader can't help but think, 'What would I have done in that situation?'”
-- Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC


Description

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 her personal maid on the Titanic. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men—a kind sailor and an enigmatic Chicago businessman—who offer differing views of what lies ahead for her in America. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes, and amidst the chaos, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. 
 
The survivors are rescued and taken to New York, but when rumors begin to circulate about the choices they made, Tess is forced to confront a serious question.  Did Lady Duff Gordon save herself at the expense of others? Torn between loyalty to Lucile and her growing suspicion that the media’s charges might be true, Tess must decide whether to stay quiet and keep her fiery mentor’s good will or face what might be true and forever change her future.




About the Author

KATE ALCOTT was a reporter covering politics in Washington D.C., where she and her husband still live




Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 remains in many people’s eyes a symbolic dividing line between a world with rigid class divisions and one with a rising middle class. Tess yearned to be part of the glamour and Jim wanted to be free of its constraints. Can a happy medium be found between these two desires, not only for Tess and Jim, but for anyone in similar circumstances?




Praise For The Dressmaker

“From the minute Tess sets foot on the Titanic, this is the kind of novel you simply cannot put down and cannot forget.” —Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key 
 
“Seamlessly stitching fact and fiction together, Alcott creates a hypnotic tale.” —USA Today
 
 “Offers a heroine you can really root for.” —NPR, “All Things Considered”
 
“A powerful, page-turning read.  It’s also a very valuable contribution to our understanding of the events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic, and its aftermath.” —Isabel Wolff, author of A Vintage Affair

“Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker is a beautifully told story that examines loss, love, couture and the choices we make when everything is on the line--all sewn together into one compelling read. I can’t stop thinking about this book and its characters.” —Sarah Jio, author of The Violets of March and The Bungalow 
 
“[Alcott’s] research into the Titanic, its sinking, and the hearings subsequently prompted is impeccable. . . . Fascinating. . . . Historical figures become intricate characters in Alcott’s hands.” —Seattle Post Intelligencer
 
“We’re all riveted by a tragedy, but what happens to the survivors?  The Dressmaker is that rare novel that asks not only what comes next but what we would do in a morally unspeakable situation—and how we live with those choices.  A brave, truly gripping novel.” —Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us

"Filled with the atmosphere, clothes, and historical figures of the times, including the Astors, the “Unsinkable" Molly Brown, and J. Bruce Ismay, the White Star's Managing Director, who cowardly boarded a lifeboat before others.” —The Huffington Post
 
“We learn a good deal about what it was like when the ship went down. But we also follow Tess as she learns about the high-fashion business in New York.” —The Washington Post
 
“A fascinating and thought-provoking book that begs us all to look at the sinking of the Titanic, how we view differences in the classes, and how we each would act in a similar situation. . . . An amazing journey.” —Bookreporter
 
 “Brims with engrossing storytelling. . . . For fans of Sarah Jio, Susanna Kearsley, and immigrant tales.” —Booklist
 
The Dressmaker achieves the remarkable—it makes the sinking of the Titanic feel like a story never told before.  By focusing on the search for justice in the aftermath of the tragedy, this compelling first novel examines humanity at its best and worst, as seen through the eyes of one of the ship's survivors, a courageous young woman who is determined to make her own way in America.” —Lauren Belfer, author of A Fierce Radiance

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