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Extended Audio Sample The Dressmaker Audiobook, by Kate Alcott Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (8,493 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kate Alcott Narrator: Susan Duerden Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2012 ISBN: 9780307970138
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Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks shes had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanics'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 periods glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Thoroughly enjoyable. The Book Reporter
  • "Folds compelling story into Titanic tragedy....Seamlessly stitching fact and fiction together, Alcott creates a hypnotic tale USA Today

  • An unashamed girlie-book....we learn a good deal about what it was like when the ship went down. But we also follow Tess as she learns about the high-fashion business in New York. Washington Post
  • Why write a Titanic story not really about the Titanic? Because what happens to the survivors makes for interesting reading.....compelling.....Her research into the Titanic, its sinking, and the hearings subsequently prompted is impeccable....fascinating.....actual historical figures become intricate characters in Alcott's hands. Seattle Post Intelligencer

    "If you want a fictional escape [about the Titanic], then it's time to turn to a new novel called The Dressmaker....the book explores complicated gender dynamics of the time, and offers a heroine you can really root for
  • While reading The Dressmaker, I felt as if I were actually living and breathing the events before, during and after the tragedy....The novel is filled with the atmosphere, clothes, and historical figures of the times, including the Astors, "The Unsinkable" Molly Brown, and J. Bruce Ismay, the White Star's Managing Director, who cowardly boarded a lifeboat before others. Huffington Post
  • It's Titanic revisited, in a romance focused on the survivors and the scandal, seen from the perspective of an aspiring seamstress whose fortunes intertwine with real characters from the epic tragedy....interesting historical facts...an appealing, soulful freshness to this shrewdly commercial offering Kirkus
  • Brims with engrossing storytelling....For fans of Sarah Jio, Susanna Kearsley, and immigrant tales. Booklist
  • The Dressmaker will appeal to readers of other historical book group favorites, The Paris Wife and Loving Frank. Book Group Buzz, A Booklist Blog
  • The 1912 sinking of the Titanic is the stone at the center of a ripple expanding to encompass the rest of the world in this fictionalized account of real historical persons and events. It is a layered story highlighting class differences and the public and private personas people put on as easily as high-fashion dresses, illustrating both the tragedy’s individual torment as well as a larger wave of survivor’s guilt. Multiple points of view bring many perspectives to the witch-hunt atmosphere and courtroom drama of a shocked world looking for someone to blame. By setting the story mainly in New York City, Alcott contrasts Lady Duff Gordon’s lush, glittering world of high society with reporter Pinky Wade’s tenement squalor and seamstress Tess Collins’s ambition and longing for freedom. Tess, the fulcrum of a star-crossed love triangle with two fellow survivors, a twice-divorced wealthy American and a sailor with a talent for woodcarving, never loses her integrity as she struggles to make sense of everything. These small stories stand for hundreds of others whose voices were stolen by the tragedy as survivors faced the consequences of indiscretion and quick tongues. A low hum of background action–suffragettes and union tensions–mirrors the human costs in the disaster that besets the Titanic....will find much to think about in this story shaped by the inherent desire to know more about one of the most documented and researched tragedies in human history Library Journal
  • We all know how the Titanic went down, we all saw the movie. But what happened after? This brilliant book shows the aftermath of the tragedy, seen through the eyes of a brave, young girl who was on board, on her way to America, to start a new life as a dressmaker. From the minute Tess sets foot on the doomed ship, this is the kind of novel you simply cannot put down and cannot forget. Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept
  • Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker is a beautifully told story that examines loss, love, couture and the choices we make when everything is on the line--all sewn together into one compelling read. I can’t stop thinking about this book and its characters. Sarah Jio, author of The Violets of March and The Bungalow 
  • We're all riveted by a tragedy, but what happens to the survivors?  THE DRESSMAKER is that rare novel that asks not only what comes next but what we would do in a morally unspeakable situation--and how we live with those choices.  A brave, truly gripping novel. Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers
     
  • The Dressmaker achieves the remarkable -- it makes the sinking of the Titanic feel like a story never told before.  By focusing on the search for justice in the aftermath of the tragedy, this compelling first novel examines humanity at its best and worst, as seen through the eyes of one of the ship's survivors, a courageous young woman who is determined to make her own way in America. Lauren Belfer, author of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light
  • 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
     

  • The Dressmaker achieves the remarkable—it makes the sinking of the Titanic feel like a story never told before.  By focusing on the search for justice in the aftermath of the tragedy, this compelling first novel examines humanity at its best and worst, as seen through the eyes of one of the ship’s survivors, a courageous young woman who is determined to make her own way in America.”

    Lauren Belfer, author of A Fierce Radiance

  • “Brims with engrossing storytelling...For fans of Sarah Jio, Susanna Kearsley, and immigrant tales.”

    Booklist

  • “We’re all riveted by a tragedy, but what happens to the survivors? The Dressmaker is that rare novel that asks not only what comes next but what we would do in a morally unspeakable situation—and how we live with those choices. A brave, truly gripping novel.”

    Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us

  • “A fascinating and thought-provoking book that begs us all to look at the sinking of the Titanic, how we view differences in the classes, and how we each would act in a similar situation. . . . An amazing journey.”

    BookReporter.com

  • “We learn a good deal about what it was like when the ship went down. But we also follow Tess as she learns about the high-fashion business in New York.”

    Washington Post

  • “Filled with the atmosphere, clothes, and historical figures of the times.”

    Huffington Post

  • “[Alcott’s] research into the Titanic, its sinking, and the hearings subsequently prompted is impeccable…Fascinating…Historical figures become intricate characters in Alcott’s hands.”

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer

  • “Offers a heroine you can really root for.”

    NPR

  • “Seamlessly stitching fact and fiction together, Alcott creates a hypnotic tale.”

    USA Today

  • Selected for the March 2012 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Auntynisey | 2/13/2014

    " I enjoyed it as I do most books about or set on the Titanic. It was interesting to read about the backlash of the Tragedy. There are many things we will never know! though it was a work of fiction it has sparked a desire to look deeper into the aftermath of the sinking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heidi | 2/8/2014

    " A titanic story.... Not much to say about it "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth Heggan | 2/5/2014

    " This was disappointing. I thought it would be interesting since it was a story about the titanic. Very shallow characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Camilla Bohman | 2/4/2014

    " This was such a refreshing break from some of my more serious readings. I was so relieved to find out this wasn't a book about the disastrous events of the Titanic complete with death and loss, but more a survivor's tale of progressing through such loss. I didn't love the protagonist as much as I would have liked to, but I absolutely loved the historical retelling of the Senate hearing following the Titanic disaster. It was such a unique part of history and I loved learning about it. I especially admired how the author switched perspectives, bouncing back and forth from seven different characters so the reader never grew bored with the same storyline. It was an enjoyable, fun read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eleon397 | 2/4/2014

    " Simplistic plot and hackneyed ideas. The idea was a good one but unfortunately the book was not worth reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elaine Hillenmeyer | 1/31/2014

    " seemed a bit like the devil wears prada set on the titanic. the scenes where they were evacuating the ship were brief and didn't convey much emotion. since the remainder of the book is based on what happened on the ship I think it would have been more effective if the ship scenes were more detailed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 1/17/2014

    " A different take on the aftermath of the Titanic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Geeta | 1/10/2014

    " Easy read, interesting, based on true facts. First 1/4 of the book tells about the sinking of the Titanic. The rest is the story of a few survivors and the investigation that takes place in NY following the event. Describes issues related to social class, different treatment of the gentry vs steerage passengers during the sinking, emotional trauma felt by the survivors. Not a "must read", but definetely interesting enough that it kept me up at night reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 1/9/2014

    " What a wonderful book - so well written. I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone - should not be missed! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michelle | 1/7/2014

    " This one intrigue me, but let me down. Not sure what I was expecting. Wanted more from it. I did listen to this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Hammock | 12/18/2013

    " This book kept my interest. Easy reading. Not sure if I liked the ending. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cindy | 12/5/2013

    " Five stars - Based on a survivor of The Titanic who lived in New York City after the shipwreck. Tess aspired to be a designer and seamstress after the shock of surviving - a wonderful historical fiction! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meghan | 11/9/2013

    " Interesting story of life after the Titanic sinking and the what life is like for some of the survivors. Weaves history in with this fictional story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 11/5/2013

    " Loved the story-a different view of the sinking to the Titanic! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane | 10/31/2013

    " I haven't decided yet. I like the historical aspect of the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie | 10/3/2013

    " Expected more. It was ok. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 7/16/2013

    " Great historical fiction story! Easy, easy read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deb Bedwell | 4/30/2013

    " Just getting started and really liking this book even though I know tragedy is coming, yes, the Titanic sinks. Think this will be a good read! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katy | 3/19/2013

    " Did the author do any historical research? It was pretty off-putting to wade through several glaring errors. The characters were bland and the two main female protagonists were nearly interchangeable to boot. Not recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jo Fenstermaker | 2/23/2013

    " Really 3 and 1/2 stars! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Penny Register | 1/30/2013

    " I had to push to finish. This should have been a great story, but it was so superficial, the plot was boring (can you imagine characters who survived the sinking of the Titanic as boring?). The pacing was terrible, there was a promise of drama at every turn and no pay off. Great cover, but resist. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 10/16/2012

    " I wasn't impressed...it was mildly entertaining, in my opinion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marisa | 7/4/2012

    " I loved that this fiction novel incorporated facts from the sinking of the Titanic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fuschia | 5/23/2012

    " 8/10, got caught up in the story but didn't love the writer's style (and confusing POVs). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maureen | 1/29/2012

    " Easy read. OK, loosely based on fact. Predictable story and ending "

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About the Author
Author Kate Alcott

Kate Alcott is the pseudonym for journalist Patricia O’Brien, who has written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. As Kate Alcott, she is the author of The Dressmaker, a New York Times bestseller. She lives with her husband in Washington, DC.

About the Narrator

Susan Duerden is a critically acclaimed audiobook narrator. Her reading of The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht earned her an AudioFile Best Voice Award and a Booklist Editors’ Choice Award. She has won ten AudioFile Earphones Awards.