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Novel tied to Titanic anniversary

Young maid gives account of tragedy

By Sue Baker

The Free Lance-Star

KATE  Alcott has created a powerfully compelling historical novel that revisits the unthinkable disaster of The Titanic, near the 100th anniversary of its tragic sinking. She includes romance and scandal as seen through the eyes of a young aspiring seamstress, Tess, who at the last minutes of boarding is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon as a maid.

Tess attracts the attention of two men. One is a very wealthy businessman and the other a kind and steady sailor. On the fourth night of the voyage, the iceberg changes history. Tess’ endurance of it all is quite exceptional.

There are many interesting historical facts that make this book hard to put down.  Only 706 of the 2,223 passengers survived. Sixty percent of those survivors were first class, including the owner of the ship’s company. The aftermath in New York was grim and full of rumors of the rich not allowing drowning passengers on their lifeboats. The Senate inquiry about the horrific events questioned the behavior of the privileged and the actions of the ship’s officers. Tess remained loyal to her mentor until she realized her sailor was being set up due to his testimony of wrongdoing on the Duff Gordon lifeboat.

Once you read this book, you will want to go back and read the real history of the events during and after. There are times I can’t get the thoughts of those poor souls screaming in the dark Atlantic for help. Ms. Alcott has produced a brave, truly gripping novel.

Sue Baker  is circulation services manager for The Free Lance–Star.

THE DRESSMAKER

By Kate Alcott

(Doubleday, $24.95,  320 pp.)

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/books/2012/04/21/novel-tied-to-titanic-anniversary/

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