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The Dressmaker [Paperback]

Kate Alcott
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: £6.99
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Book Description

28 Feb 2013

Torn between her dreams and the truth, she was faced with an impossible choice . . .

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, is stunned at her luck when the famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon hires her to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. When disaster strikes, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat - her employer also survives. On dry land, savage rumours begin to circulate: did Lady Duff Gordon save herself at the expense of others?

Tess's dream of becoming a skilled dressmaker is within her grasp but now she is faced with a terrible choice. Suddenly she finds herself torn between loyalty to the fiery woman who could help her realise her ambitions and the devastating truth that her mentor may not be all she seems.

Authentic and honest, The Dressmaker is a compelling and vivid story that will have you holding your breath until the last page.

*Shortlisted for the Goodreads Historical Novel Award*

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (28 Feb 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0751549231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751549232
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A novel about human relationships, trust, loyalty and ambition . . . Pacy, well-written, full of drama, atmosphere and dilemma and is sure to fascinate (Hello!)

This glitzy, glamorous tale packs a punch (Star magazine)

Seamlessly stitching fact and fiction together, Alcott creates a hypnotic tale (USA Today)

Based on true events surrounding the dramatic incident of 1912, this honest and engaging accounts of one woman's battle with love, loyalty, truth and what it means to be brave will have readers facing up to the reality of such an atrocity (U Magazine)

Book Description

Atmospheric, authentic and utterly absorbing - this spirited historical novel will have timeless appeal to lovers of The Postmistress, My Last Duchess and The Kashmir Shawl

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant novel - gripping and powerful! xxx 27 Feb 2013
By Megan ReadingInTheSunshine TOP 100 REVIEWER
Tess is a young maid and dreams of being a seamstress, so she thinks she's had her lucky break when the famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon hires her to be a personal maid on board the Titanic. Tess catches the eye of two men on board: a millionaire from Chicago and a kind sailor. Disaster strike as the Titanic hits an iceberg, and Tess is one of the last people to board a lifeboat, with her employers also surviving having boarded a different lifeboat. However, on dry land, rumours begin to circulate about Tess employers - Did Lady Duff Gordon save herself at the expense of others? Tess finds herself in the middle of the controversy as she is torn between loyalty to the woman who could make her dreams come true, and finding out the truth about what really happened on that fateful night.

I am a huge fan of historical novels, and I was gripped! This is a book that is addictive, thought-provoking and very hard to put down! The sinking of the Titanic is a historical moment that still fascinates and intrigues many people today, and so a story centred around this event is sure to draw many readers in!

The characters were brilliantly written - It was very interesting to see how each character acted on the night of the sinking, the decisions they made and their reasons for making them, as well as the exploration of their behaviour in the aftermath during the hearings to find out exactly what happened. There are a lot of emotions weaved in with this book, and as a reader I felt myself go through a roller-coaster of emotions as I progressed with the characters on the journey. The romance is very well written, and I enjoyed those parts very much!

The setting and descriptions are fantastic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWER
We are all familiar with the story of the sinking of the Titanic and as a fan of historical fiction I was eager to read THE DRESSMAKER. Might I add that I also like the "fictional" characters within the true story to have a plausible reason for their presence in the story. In the case of Tess Collins, the wanna-be dressmaker who is seeking to escape her job as a maid and races to the docks at Southampton only to be hired on the spot by Lady Lucile Duff Gordon, the premiere designer of her day, does stretch the bounds of credibility. An even further stretch is contained in the romantic aspect of the story where not one but two men become completely enamored of Ms. Collins as she strolls the decks and investigates the nooks and crannies of the ship. (I doubt very seriously that a servant would have had that much free time much less been allowed to wander among the first class passengers). Also, the relationship that develops between Lady Duff Gordon and Tess defies all logic. A woman possessing the feelings of superiority and entitlement felt by Lady Duff,, as displayed by her actions during and after the sinking, would never have allowed the level of challenge to her authority and the insolence displayed by the Tess Collins character.

The striking of the iceberg and the sinking itself were covered in a few sparse pages and seemed to have been inserted into the narrative as a side bar of sorts rather than an integral part of the story. Additionally, the portrayal of these events is related in a manner that truly lacks any sort of urgency or feeling of impending doom.

That being said, I will admit that I did enjoy the "factual" portions of the story concerning the testimony given by various survivors during the U.S.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent 20 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
very good book different angle on titanic highly recommend just goes to show you couldnt trust aristocrats made more interesting by having true people in it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Historical tragedy 6 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed this historical novel, which interweaves fact and fiction with the
Titanic's voyage as a setting. I am really looking forward to this writer's next novel which is out next year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 4 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was read by our book club and everyone really enjoyed it, especially with the story of the Titanic
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Reading 2 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My wife thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in two days as a seamstress of considerable skill it was right up her street
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book 14 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book and bought it after reading a review in People's Friend magazine.
An interesting slant on the Titanic sinking and story around it. Don't know how much was factual or fictional, but a story that was difficult to put down once started.
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4.0 out of 5 stars an interesting mix of fact and fiction 25 May 2013
Aspiring dressmaker Tess Collins can barely believe her luck when she finds herself being taken on at the last minute by the infamous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon as she prepares to set sail aboard the Titanic's maiden voyage. Tess finds herself in a whole new world that she could barely even have imagined; all her fanciful dreams suddenly a real possibility. However as the Titanic meets its doomed fate, everything is thrown into turmoil, and nothing it seems will be simple thereafter. Back on dry land, rumours begin to speculate quickly, and Tess finds her new employers at the centre of gossip and questioning; why was their lifeboat so empty, why didn't they go back for survivors and what else happened on the so called millionaires' boat? Soon Tess finds her loyalty divided; however, it is a hard choice between her dreams and what she believes to be right!

The Dressmaker is an interesting debut novel; Alcott successfully weaving her own story from events surrounding the Titanic, adding her own spin on things, whilst including reference to real persons and actual happenings. The actual voyage and sinking itself is covered within the first two to three chapters, which was probably a good decision on the author's part, given how familiar the story is, and as such allowing her to focus much more on the aftermath.

It is here, centered around the hearings that were called in the States looking to dissect events surrounding the sinking, that I think the story really excels. Alcott paints a vivid picture of the various human failings, exploring why people acted as they did, from the heroic to the weak and cowardly, and those who simply did what they thought best at the time, amidst such strenuous circumstances and split-second decisions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read with a page turning factor.
An interesting book set against the background of the Titanic disaster. Well drawn characters from all levels of society.
Published 17 days ago by aries
4.0 out of 5 stars Christmas present
Cant review this accurately, as the person I gave it to has not started to read it yet, but she said that she liked the auther
Published 10 months ago by dwpearce
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoy the time
The writer captures the way of life of women of various classes during early 1900s
The story moves along at a good pace with chacters you can like. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Bema
2.0 out of 5 stars The Dressmaker
I would not recommend this book. The whole situation was so unbelievable. I think the scrutiny of the underused lifeboats is significant to the Titanic story but I just don't... Read more
Published 17 months ago by RS
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dressmaker
Such a different twist on the story of the Titanic. There was still unanswered questios until the end. Very gripping.
Published 17 months ago by Mrs Jeanette M Eades
4.0 out of 5 stars A new expeirence
Not the usual book that I read, but enjoyed it non the less. A bit slow reading in parts but still a very good read. I liked the way the story was fact based but still fiction.
Published 17 months ago by Angela Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars A new take on an old story
I really enjoyed this book ,it had an interesting take on a familiar story .The characters were well thought out and made me want to turn the page to see what was going to... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Arthur
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