Book Review: The Dressmaker (Kate Alcott)

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Plot: 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

Rating: 7.5/10

The Dressmaker focuses on the following issues: The sinking of the Titanic and the grand ineptitude that lead to it and the disaster that unfollowed; the true nature of the human beings on board that couldn’t help but be exposed while faced with such horrific events, the aftermath of the sinking of the ship, the suffragette movement (briefly); the class system that was so debilitating to the lower class and a love triangle for the main heroine.

Is it too much to address in one book? I didn’t think so. I had a great deal of fun with this book. It’s well written and the main character is endearing. I liked Tess enormously – she was determined to be something and work hard for it. She didn’t expect any favors, she just wanted a chance. Lucille and Cosmo were the most disgusting examples of privilege in this book – even though Lucille seemed to have some redeeming qualities a few times, she was haughty, overly privileged and cruel. Cosmo seemed like the lesser evil, but obviously he was just as pompous and power hungry as his spouse. I also really liked Jim Bonney – he was pure and honest and hardworking. Jack Bremerton was an interesting character, one who I thought would turn out devious but never really transformed into anything like that.

What I really liked was an insight to how people dealt with being in full survival mode on top of an “unsinkable” ship. I’ve always wondered, and assuming that everyone would act like Jack Dawson / Rose is naïve – fear makes people reveal their true core nature. Most people acted cowardly, and I’m not really sure we are allowed to blame them, not having been in that situation and witnessing what they have witnessed.

I also really loved the character development of Tess Collins – her character sets out as this naïve and determined girl who somehow still believes that the upper class will end up treating her well because she has some talent. Everything that held her stable is destroyed with the witnessing of the Titanic disaster, the following aftermath and the less reputable actions of her Madame both onboard and on mainland.

The end of the book concluded nicely, with Tess realizing what was important and making decisive moves that meant she could live with her choices. I might also add for those worried that there really isn’t any melodrama involved, both with the love triangle or any other part of the story. It is simply a nice read that asks important questions in an unimposing way, and I stupendously glad I read this novel.

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Watched, Read, Loved: November 2016 – Most dramatic month ever?

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What a month! It’s been crazy. I wrote this long ass post about all my opinions and then I was like eh, don’t need it, not my country, not my cheescurl. So let’s just go on with the usual here and do the rundown of what I was up to this month as usual, shall we?

I finished exams – YAS. So far I’ve passed everything with one result still pending. I’m darn pleased with myself, to be honest. So close to being done I can smell it. I’ve been rather irritated with some things at work, but my eyes have been opened a bit – I am so fortunate to be employed by a stable company where there is a 30% unemployment rate in South-Africa right now, and I should really be more thankful about that. I also broke plates at a Greek restaurant, and I now fully understand why the Greek people are so joyous – it is therapeutic! I also managed to be caught in rain storms quite a few times, and as I’m writing this I have a disgusting head cold going on – sneezing, coughing, basically being the person I’d generally want to murder.

Watched in cinema:

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Dr. Strange(2016)

I enjoyed this film quite a lot. It really IS Iron Man on drugs and has the exact same story, but I liked it nonetheless. Benedict Cumberbatch truly is the definition of the term strange, and works superbly in this Marvel film. (and he WERKS that cape)

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them (2016)

I made no secret in my review that I had zero time for this film. What a precious waste of my time and abuse of the Potter world. Ugh.

 Watched at home:

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Aliens (1986)

So much epic. I am so glad I sat down and watched this, my 2016 blindspot series has been quite the disaster and I’m scrapping it off the menu for 2017 completely. However, I did enjoy a whole bunch of the watched films, and this was one of them. Ripley is so badass man, so badass.

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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

As mentioned above, I’ve been kicking and screaming trying to finish my Blindspots while totally not in the mood, but this turned out to be so beautiful and heartbreaking. Totally worth the time and paying attention to the English subtitles.

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Series:

Vampire Diaries Season 5

It’s good, but definitely lacks a bit in terms of my favorite – season 3. However, Elena isn’t the world’s most annoying vampire ever, which can only be an improvement. Review will hopefully be up soon 😀

Books read:

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The Dressmaker– Kate Alcott

Despite this being the title of THREE DIFFERENT NOVELS – which lead to a variety of confusion -I have all the love for this book. It is definitely not the same story as the movie that I want to watch with Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, but I am so happy I took a chance. What a lovely, interesting and thought provoking read this was!

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The Power of Six – Pittacus Lore

The second book in the Lorien Legacies is also turning out to be a fantastic read. It is well written and well thought out, something most of these dystopian/alien/teenage books lack completely.

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I am Number Four – Pittacus Lore

I reviewed this over HERE, and it was one of the better books I read this year. Very impressed!

Love by Design: Loving Jack and Best Laid Plans – Nora Roberts

I’ll never really review this – it has little to no story line and is essentially just some smooch smoochy stories. Even in my bedraggled study brain mode this was too dumb for me, and I probably skipped quite a few pages because there are only so many scorching kisses that can be read.

Reread:  Convincing Alex – Nora Roberts

A reread that won’t be seeing another review. I find these books fun and vacant, and having met real Ukranians I can assure you that they are not Mikhael and Alexi Stanislaski, ladies.

Reread:  Luring A Lady–Nora Roberts

Same as above. It was fun while it lasted!

Reread: The Obsession (Nora Roberts) – I have so much love for this book and author (as you all know), and I’m enjoying it the second time around – I borrowed it to a friend shortly after finishing it the first time, and I must say, it is as good as my first impression of it.

What have you been entertaining yourself with? Tell me in the comments 🙂