The Dressmaker

 

Ok…I guess it’s only been 18…EIGHTEEN?!…since Titanic came out. Good God I’m old. I saw a post the other day from a teenager making fun of people like “Why do people think Titanic is such a good movie? Did people really cry over this and watch it hundreds of times? It’s not that good!” YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH. When I was your age, I had Leo DiCaprio EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE, and I was Rose for Halloween complete with mock Heart of the Ocean, and I had every damn word of “My Heart Will Go On” memorized. And when I was a teenager, we didn’t know what the sweaty palm sliding down the window meant, and we had to fast forward through the naked painting scene, because things were more innocent back in the 90s.

Sorry. I just really love Titanic, ok?

 

And so I had to go back. Back to the grandest ship in history. In The Dressmaker, Tess boards the ship with fashion icon Lady Duff Gordon as her maid, in hopes that she can prove herself and earn a spot in Gordon’s shop. We meet a few people on the voyage, but unlike in the movie, the tragedy happens very quickly. Kate Alcott’s book focuses mostly on the aftermath and the trial, rather than the accident itself.

This is the story we missed out on from Jack and Rose, and I found it fascinating. What came after the survivors were picked up in the Carpathia? Alcott focused her research around one couple in particular, who faced quite a bit of the blame in the story, and created an assistant to carry the narration. The result is a captivating historical fiction set between two momentous events:  the sinking of the Titanic, and the beginning of woman’s suffrage. There’s also a bit of an underlying love triangle going on. I definitely had my preference for who I was rooting for, but I know others will not feel the same way!

I’m continuing my trend with great picks for #ReadWomen–I didn’t expect to find as much feminism in this one as there was. The Unsinkable Molly Brown is a key player, adding her ferocious sense of self, along with a fiery newswoman. I’ll give this four book dragons!

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