Book Review: The Dressmaker (Kate Alcott)


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.

#100HappyDays: Day 69 – 80

I know, I know. It’s been ages since I posted a 100 Happy Days update. Hell, ignoring yesterday, it has been a whole week since I’ve posted anything. I took a very little hiatus, mostly from my responsibilities, just to focus on myself and rest a bit. It’s been great, but I love blogging and had to return. I refuse to return to my other responsibilities though 😀


Day 69:

I have been on the prowl for a red pair of shoes for a while. Red is such a kick-ass color, don’t you think? I had to be particular though because I have no wish to go full on stripper while working at a Pharmaceutical company. I saw these shoes first when they were not on sale and a bit pricey. So just think of my happiness when I found them on sale at nearly half price!


Day 70:

I’m reading the Inn Boonsboro series of Nora Roberts again and having such a blast.


Day 71:

Packing and wedding prep had me hyped up the entire week for my Bestie’s wedding!


Day 72:

I’m currently obessed with this purple polish from Revlon. The pic doesn’t really capture the true color though.


Day 73:

The day of my Bestie’s wedding. The rain stayed away, the bride looked amazing and the venue was so on point. It was a wondrous occasion. Pictured here is our bridesmaid’s bouquet. How gorgeous?!


Day 74:

On the way back from the wedding we stopped at the Sudwala Caves in Sabie/Hazyview. If you ever travel in South-Africa and find yourself in the region, definitely pay them a visit. It is humbling to see the majesty of the caves, and an education and highly entertaining to listen to the history, well told by properly trained tour guides.


Day 75:

Gosh, this little dog of ours. Things to note: How Nicci Noodle is lying inside the house when it is their “outside time”. How Olive, the larger black dog in the pic, can’t fit through the gate and is feeling very sorry for herself, and the guilt that radiates from Nicci. It’s hilarious to watch these two!


Day 76:

I obviously had very little to post that day. However, I do find it so stimulating to talk to people who has passion for something. It is a rare thing to find lately.


Day 77:

Biltong, my favorite snack.


Day 78:

Went for some coffee and cake with my sister. We used to live close to  one another and work together, and now both those scenarios have changed. It was lovely just sitting and talking uninterruptedly for a few hours.


Day 79:

Everything was good about this Good Friday, yo. I woke up naturally, wasn’t forced to function at a godforsaken hour and baked some delicious savory muffins.


Day 80:

Zoë did my nails with this topcoat, and it is ridiculous how well this Essie Good to Go range works. My nails were unchipped for more than a week, and I am very rough with my hands. I got my hands on some in the shops, and am so happy to have in stock now!

What have you been up to darlings?

#100HappyDays: Days 9 – 16

day 9

Day 9: When I moved into my new place at the beginning of #2015wasashittyyear last year, my dog had to go live with my sister. While I am really grateful and happy that Nicci Noodle got to go to a safe and happy environment and be with people that love her, I still miss her snuggly warmth every day. I got to spend some time with her recently and that made me really happy. I’ve also been kind of obsessed with block heels since they came back at the end of last year. They are great – you can actually work in them because they provide support for your feet, and they look uber cool – I feel like I can do anything when I wear them. I saw this pair in the shops but they didn’t have my size, and when even the online store for the retailer didn’t list them anymore I wrote it down as bad luck. So when I found them in another branch, my happy cup filled over and I was dancing (at least in my head) in the shop.

day 10

Day 10: Started watching Homeland Season 5 – oh goodness, what a crazy great and intense season! Also did nails in a gorgeous new color and continued with my adult coloring book.

day 11

Day 11: This sassy little book bag gave me such joy when I bought it.

day 12

Day 12: I’m busy reading this incredible book from Elizabeth Gilbert – Big Magic. It is everything I want in a book that wants to be self-helping. I am having such a great time. The woman is sensational and I just want to be like her when I grow up.

day 13

Day 13: Johannesburg was being lovely

day 14

Day 14: Had some delicious meals throughout the day and updated blog’s look as well.

day 15

Day 15: These Paris prints in my room makes me so happy. Motivation and reminders of what I want to do in my life.

day 16

Day 16: I’m doing really well with the no-sugar thing so far. However, with amazing cappuccino I don’t even think about sugar. How amazing is that?!

What made you happy this week?



#100HappyDays: Days 1-8

Happy Monday everyone!

To make this shitty day better, here is a recap of my first 8 days on the #100HappyDays challenge

Day 1: Spending time with my bestie is always the most magnificent time. Just as a side note – she makes AMA-ZING cottage pie.

IMG_20160101_190819Day 2: Adventures across Nelspruit: Wool shopping (I was coerced, hem hem); very delicious iced Coffee to combat the heat; as well as a lurvely meal with lurvely people to say bye-bye till next time.


Day 3: Roadtrip back home: More Iced Coffee, this time from Mugg ‘n Bean (yes, you are spotting a trend).


Day 4: The consumer based market knows everyone way too well. They had a massive sale at one of the big retailers here in South-Africa (who isn’t getting a shout-out because their service is atrocious). Anyhoo, got these New Balance running shoes on half price and I was dancing all the way.

new balance

Day 5: Continued running and made myself some healthy and delicious dinner afterwards. So happy with my steak – I am so not a master at making it but this turned out lovely!


Day 6: The University I study with had me in a constant stressball for the last couple of months. I had to update my course code, and they had changed all their systems and what-whats. Needless to say, I was freaked out when it ran into the new year and I still hadn’t received feedback from them – you do NOT mess with a part-time student that is this close to graduating. They FINALLY got back to me this week and I was doing somersaults in the office


Day 7: Gifts from Hermanus, Western Cape


Day 8: The heatwave has been pulsing through Gauteng like mad. We’ve been running around at 40 degrees celcius a day, and about 22 degrees at night. It has really felt like hell on earth and everyone has been miserable in this heat (and incredibly stupid on social media, but more on that later). On Friday the rain finally came pouring down from the skies and the people didn’t even moan. I had a terrible drive back from work – think roads steaming from the heat and rain contact, poring rain and a highway – and no power thanks to the thunderstorm, but it has been absolutely amazing just to cool down a bit.


Well, there we go. Feedback on noticing the everyday happy for the first week (and one day). What makes you happy? Let me know!!

Up this week:

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: Blindspot 2016 choices

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: Book Review: The River House by Margaret Leroy

Thursday, 14 January 2016: Series Review: Supernatural Season 2

Friday, 15 January 2016: Movie Review: Inglorious Basterds

New Year’s resolutions 2014


To be thankful

I am so blessed. I have friends, family, people who love me and whom I love. I have clothes to wear, food to eat and a job. I live in an amazing country that defies everything people have ever thought about Africa. I am literate. I can read as much as I want. I have the capacity to understand what I read and apply it. I have no disabilities. In 2014 I want to complain a little less, love a little more, and appreciate what I have.

Explore new things

I want to be able to sit as an old lady and say that I have lived the best possible life, and tried everything. I want to see new places this year, read new books, listen to new music, and talk to new people. I don’t want to get stuck in a comfortable bubble, content to slip into routines and never

Get a car

My biggest obstacle in life was not having a license. I finally got my license in June 2013 (WHOOP) and now my next goal is a CAR – the next step to freedom. Watch this space!

Be better with my finances

Which means no new debt and saving for the next independence move – my own place.

Building up a good wardrobe. I want a functional wardrobe that is appropriate for any occasion. I always feel that my wardrobe has good ideas for parties, but generally less for normal life. Sigh.

Being the healthiest I can be – by this I mean content with my size, feeling healthy and energetic. I also really want to do the Warrior Race, so I need to get into shape for that.

Pass 7 subjects with Unisa

*If they actually release my results before 2058

Travel to a new place.

Develop my blog and get a new, customized theme.

Start my fashion blog.

Stop swearing so damn much (haha)

Double Review: Eat, Pray Love

Book and Movie Review: Similarities, and which one won

Book: 56/100

The condensed version of what happens:

After Elizabeth Gilbert finally divorces her husband after years of heartache, she is emotionally drained and is suffering from severe depression. Her relationship after her divorce with a man named David also goes off, and she knows she needs to restore her balance somehow. She found faith through David – Hinduism.

Elizabeth has three wishes to fulfill her life: To visit Italy to learn to enjoy life again and speak the language that has always fascinated her, to visit India and go to the Ashram of her Guru, and to go to Bali in Indonesia to find a balance between her spiritual life and pleasure.

After the divorce, Elizabeth is broke. An unexpected miracle happens and she is able to make plans to visit the three countries within a year: Italy first, then India, and lastly Bali. Each visit will take four months.

In Italy Elizabeth visits the finest Italian restaurants, and truly enjoys the food, the people and their culture. She starts her healing process here, only focusing on the enjoyment of life. Her nature enables her to make friends easily, and most notably she becomes friends with Luca Spaghetti (obviously Italian) and Sophie, a lovely Swedish girl.

In India, Liz starts to become a true Yogic devotee, meditating for hours on time. Her struggles with more complex meditations are becomes her battle, and she takes a while to understand why it is so necessary. She makes a Texan friend, Richard, and he helps her makes peace with the memory of her husband and the divorce, and also parts of herself.

In Indonesia, Bali, Liz studies with Ketut, an old Balinese medicine man. In exchange for English lessons, he teaches her how to be more spiritual. She also meets Wayan, another healer. They become best friends in Bali. Through Wayan, Liz ends up at a party hosted by Felipe, a Brazilian expat who also went through a divorce. Liz and Felipe starts seeing each other, attracted by their similar pasts, their chemistry, and the way they now approach life.

Will Liz and Felipe manage to keep their relationship working when they are supposed to live in different parts of the world?

Rating: 8.5/10


The lengthy reasons why I really loved this book:

Firstly, the book is superbly written. The writing is of such a high standard, and it is obvious that the writer is well trained in her art.

EPL is a book that manages to bridge a gap between two types of books I never read – self-help and autobiographies. Both of these irritate me senseless because 1) I am quite able to fix myself and 2) you are not so overly interesting that I want to read about your life. EPL, however, is a good bridge between the two. Elizabeth Gilbert’s life has been one of incredible privileges, but also unthinkable sadness. She makes you understand that divorce rips you apart, and take ages to recover from. She describes her journey to recovery to you in a way that makes it seem possible that you too can recover from any depression in her lives.

The self-help part of the book isn’t enforced in the obvious way that it is normally done. Your beliefs and the way you perceive the world happens automatically when you read through her tale. It isn’t something you can help, or something she insists on, but rather something that is a very natural step by reading such a thought provoking book.

I love how she refers to everyone in the book as “my friend”. It makes me sense the overall politeness of her character, and that she will accept you no matter what.

The book made me interested in other peoples’ cultures and beliefs. Living in South-Africa, it is a challenge each day to change your mind-set enough to consider someone else’s viewpoint because their traditions and cultures are so much more different from yours. Her travels to Italy, India and Indonesia are full of interesting, wise people with fascinating stories. They are all so different, and all are fascinating. She shares many sad stories too – is it even possible for anyone to become fully connected to the divine without difficult times behind them?

In Italy, I found the search for the perfect meal delightfully acceptable. Her desire to only experience pleasure was gratified here, and she managed to learn other lessons too. There was still so sad about her damaged love life. Italy, it would seem, is the perfect place to recover from its demise.

India is all about the spiritual journey of her year long hiatus. In the Ashram, she cements her Hindu beliefs and starts to learn how to balance her life. What struck me the most is her insistence that she would never state any religion is wrong. I am a fierce believing in the right to choose your religion, and she is definitely part of that belief.

Bali is the place where Elizabeth finds everything she needs – food, friends, spirituality (especially through the wisdom of her friend Ketut, a Balinese healer aged somewhere between sixty and one hundred and twelve)

Elizabeth’s other healer friend Wyan’s tale made me sad. The woman defied her culture by divorcing her abusive husband and getting custody of their daughter, an unknown victory in the patriarchal society of Bali. She still survived, took care of her daughter, adopted two orphans, and made a business of her healing powers. She even managed to stay true to her culture despite defying it – she practices her beliefs devoutly and her work honors it.

On the Bali part, I know now much more of their history than previously. When I thought about the holiday destination before, I thought of the terrorist attacks in 2003, and also about what a beautiful place it is. Now I know that their story runs much deeper, and their peace now is so well deserved after centuries of violence and struggle. Their culture is deep and unexpectedly humorous – they basically name their children First, Second, Third and Fourth. I found this confusing system funny and sweet, and really simple since it makes naming your children not so exhausting like our Westerners’ naming activities get.

Finally, when she finds Felipe, you are happy for her knowing she has someone special again, even though she would have been fine alone for a very long time. Wyan tells Elizabeth that Felipe is a good man outside and inside (of himself), and that is apparently very true. He seems perfectly made for Elizabeth. It is almost as if they experienced the same things in life just so that they, he a Brazilian and she an American would end up in Bali, and find one another.

If I have one complaint about the book, there were a few parts that threatened to become tedious in explanation. However, it was such a little amount of places that I really did not mind in the end.

The Movie (2010)


Rating: 8/10


Julia Roberts (Elizabeth)

Javier Bardem (Felipe)

James Franco (David)

Richard Jenkins (Richard)

Billy Crudup (Steven)

Viola Davis (Delia)

Tuva Novotny (Sofi)

In this case, the book is victorious over the movie. Both are exceptionally done. I am a huge fan of Julia Roberts, and I think she was a wonderful choice for Elizabeth. She fits the physical description perfectly, something that rarely happens in a book-movie adaption.

The male characters were well cast as well. It is enjoyable seeing James Franco act as David, mostly because he plays a lovable yet childish guy. Javier Bardem rocks as Felipe. I think that he is the captures the essence of that character so well – an older gentlemen who has such capacity to love but is still afraid of hurt.


There were a few changes, naturally. I didn’t mind as much because it simply served to provide a movie within an acceptable timeframe.

The book wins over the movie because the book packs enormous spiritual power, and the movie doesn’t as much. There simply isn’t enough time in one movie to accurately portray the storyline.

My friend Zoe mentioned that she had read somewhere that it is a movie about sunglasses, and I have to confirm it is true. It is the great movie of promoting sunglasses to be honest. The sunglasses rock in Eat Pray Love, turning already hot characters into very, very hot characters. I love the aviators on Julia Roberts, and Javier Bardem looked mighty fine with his as well. The fact is that the storyline encourages sunglasses, because travelers wear sunglasses. A whole lot.



I really liked the movie, and I would recommend both the book and it to most people. You might get a bit offended if you aren’t comfortable discussing other religions than your own, but I found it wonderful.