The Dressmaker

A Novel
Alcott, Kate (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Dressmaker

Item Details

Random House, Inc.

Just in time for the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes a vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young woman who survives the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy.

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.

Baker & Taylor
A spirited young maid on board the Titanic captures the attentions of two men including a kindhearted sailor and an enigmatic Chicago millionaire and barely escapes with her life before witnessing media scorn targeting her famous designer mistress. 75,000 first printing.

& Taylor

A spirited young maid on board the Titanic captures the attentions of two men including a kindhearted sailor and an enigmatic Chicago millionaire and barely escapes with her life before witnessing media scorn targeting her famous designer mistress.

Authors: Alcott, Kate
Statement of Responsibility: Kate Alcott
Title: The dressmaker
a novel
Publisher: New York :, Doubleday,, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 306 p. ;,25 cm.
More » MARC Display»

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Report This Dec 06, 2013
  • oboechica88 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

It was an engaging novel, and I had a fun reading it. The trials were well researched and it was an interesting look at a time period I haven't done a lot of reading on. The class situation could have been researched a little bit more and the characters more plausible, but otherwise it seemed well researched on the Titanic. Maybe not a book for hard core history books, but a good read I'd recommend to dabblers in historical fiction and who enjoy chick lit. For the full review, head to my blog at OboeChica Books (so long and thanks for all the fish)

Report This Jun 24, 2013
  • writermala rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

We believed that we knew everything there was to know about the Titanic and all the more so after we saw the movie; but Kate Alcott has surpassed all that in her powerful novel, "The Dressmaker." I was not sure whether to consider it History, Drama, or Romance and I was hoping that despite all the twists and turns the story would end as I wanted it to. Starting as it does with a tragedy of epic proportions things can only get better or can they not? Read this masterfully told novel and find out.

Report This May 11, 2013
  • musicalmom418 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This was an awesome book. If you like anything about the Titanic, you'll love this book. I had a hard time putting it down. I wanted to read it again and again.

Report This Dec 17, 2012
  • rebecca349 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“This is a fascinating premise for a novel as well as 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

Report This Nov 18, 2012
  • MemosInStilettos rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An enjoyable account of the Titanic enquiry, I have a fasination with the Duff Gordons after reading Mistress Of Nothing. A great history lesson without being bogged down with over zealous details..

Report This Sep 06, 2012
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A very good read. A very interesting subject. At times rather sad. I highly recommend this book for all to read.

Report This Jun 16, 2012
  • ehbooklover rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A great historical novel. While the plot does include the actual sinking of the Titanic, its main focus is the aftermath of the tragedy and the choices people made in the spur of the moment. The suffrage movement and women's fashion were key themes as well.

Great Book. I was really surprised to see such low marks. This was a fantastic historical fiction book with great research. Interesting plot with the sinking of the Titanic playing a small role instead of the main setting.

Report This May 03, 2012
  • bettyred rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I was very excited for this. big disappointment. badly written unbelievable characters

Report This May 02, 2012
  • KarenW rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

While suggesting to invoke a time in history, this is a simplistic take on what could have been be a compelling story that only capitalizes on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It doesn't help that the author has played fast and loose with the facts of what could have been an opportunity to record a fascinating story. Ultimately disappointing.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

Report This Nov 24, 2013
  • siammarino rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The Dressmaker tells the story of a young Irish woman named Tess who gleefully boards the Titanic in the employ of a famous designer named Lucille on it's fateful voyage across the Atlantic. While the both survive the sinking, Tess becomes embroiled in the controversy surrounding the actions of the wealthy, like Lucille and her husband, on board the few lifeboats available. Based on the actual Senate hearings, Alcott explores the themes of loyalty, heroism, cowardice and selfishness in the face of disaster.

Report This Mar 12, 2012
  • DanniOcean rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Thanks to James Carmeron – who has Walter Lord’s book A Night to Remember to thank in turn – there may not be a single person in the world who is not aware of the basic facts surrounding the sinking of the White Star Line’s RMS Titanic: she was not carrying enough lifeboats, not all of those lifeboats were filled to capacity, and only one of those went back to rescue people in danger of freezing or drowning. Of the 2224 passengers and crew, only about 700 survived and many of those were left impoverished, widowed and orphaned. In the case of some of the upper class survivors, they were ostracized by society, as the author investigates. This is what makes Kate Alcott’s book different. As a Washington D.C. reporter, Alcott did her homework, and this is where her writing is strongest. She skims over the actual sinking of the ill-fated ship and ponders what happened next for those survivors? The chairman of the White Star Line J. Bruce Ismay, fashion designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon and Margaret “Molly” Brown are some of the upper class privileged who managed to survive. These real-life passengers are mixed with Alcott’s fictional characters, most of which are less believable, which seems almost disrespectable to those who perished; however, she plucks these characters from all classes, including steerage and crew who were least likely to survive the wreckage, the policy having been women and children first (and those on the upper decks, closest to the few available lifeboats). The dressmaker’s maid Tess, Jean and Jordan Darling, the sailor Jim and others may be less well-drawn, but we see the sinking and aftermath through all their eyes and stories. April 15th marks 100 years since the Titanic sank, and if they are not as developed as they could have been, it certainly gives the reader pause for thought and discussion for those who could have been their real-life counterparts.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

Report This Nov 17, 2013
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” -Winston Churchill


Add a Video

There are no videos for this title yet.

Find it at NYPL


Other Formats

Buy It Now

Support your library, keep it forever!

View Purchase Options Learn more about this program

Your Cart

Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:

If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.

You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.

The Dressmaker
Alcott, Kate
The Dressmaker

To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.

All items will be removed from your cart.

I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.

Explore Further

Browse the Shelf

Related Authors

Subject Headings


Powered by BiblioCommons.