Wednesday, March 21, 2012
"The Dressmaker" by Kate Alcott
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic. I'm sure National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, et al. have their documentaries lined up in queue, and I've already noticed that James Cameron's epic movie is already back in rotation on one of the premium movie channels. There has always been some level of fascination surrounding the demise of the "Unsinkable Titanic", and with its discovery laying on the ocean floor. Here is a story to complement that fascination. It is purely fictional, but is drawn from the actual events and some of the people involved. This book almost starts at the boat's sinking though, and tells the story through the investigation hearings. I was very excited about this book from the moment I had heard of it. Unfortunately, I may have gotten a little too excited.
Everything in this book seems to move very quickly - too quickly. I felt like I didn't have a tight grasp on the characters. I couldn't understand the motivations or choices made by certain characters, especially Tess, and that troubled me. Relationships between characters seemed to grow incredible fast, and then there was a love triangle that seemed to pop up days after all the players had first met. I don't mind a love story I can believe in, but this just felt off, forced, and quite frankly - shallow.
The passages relating directly to the historical record were very interesting. Seeing and experiencing the ship's sinking was remarkable as told from Tess's point of view. I really got into it - all the anxious, frenzied emotion. I also really enjoyed reading about the hearings; as truth and lies were presented and no one really knowing which was which. I think my favorite character was "Pinky" Wade, the fearless female reported assigned to covering the disaster for the New York Times. She was a terrifically crafted character that I could believe in. I wonder what the book would have been like if told completely from her point of view?
I really wasn't blown away by this book. Granted, I am not an expert on historical fiction or historical romance, but I feel like the two elements that make this genre should flow seamlessly together, not switch back and forth like you are watching two different television shows at the same time. The premise is very intriguing, but it just didn't work for me.
By Kate Alcott
Knopf Doubleday, 2012
Source: Publisher for an honest review
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