The Dressmaker

Interest Level: Mature/ Adult

France, 1912. A young woman is working as a maid for an older lady. She is suppose to be making dresses. She is a seamstress afterall, not just a cleaning lady. She dreams of a life where she can design and create her own dresses, far away from the prowling hands of the mistress’s son.

Tess Collins is a poor girl who has spent a great deal of time waiting on others. One day, she finally decides that she has had enough. After requesting her wages she storms out of the house in Cherbourg once and for all and heads towards to docks. There, awaiting departure, is the Titanic. Through quick thinking and even quicker talking she is able to find passage aboard the ship as a personal maid to known other than Lady Duff Gordon. This pivotal moment will change Tess’s life forever.

As we all know, 1912 was the year the Titanic sank. Luckily for Tess she makes it to New York. There she will discover that the sinking ship was just the tip of her personal iceberg! She will be stuck between two worlds: that of the rich and that of the poor. She is treated one minute as a servant and the other as a middle class professional. She will find she must not only choose one world for her financial security, but for the security of her heart as well.

 

 

Cautions:

*Tess mentions twice that the son of her mistress in Cherbourg assaulted her.

*Lady Duff Gordon is incredibly manipulative and self-centered. She does only what is best for her.

*There is a lot of lying, bribery, deception, and blame during the trials.

*Tess is kissed by two different gentlemen, both with her permission.

*A character commits suicide from being called a coward.

Awesomeness:

*This book is historical for three reasons: The Titanic’s unfortunate voyage, the change in the fashion industry, and the suffragist movement. All three events are mentioned and woven throughout the story.

*Tess is able to work her way out of a difficult life situation and learn to make it on her own merits.

*Several characters intentionally search for the truth and support one another as they heal from the tragedy.

Pick up this book and travel across the Atlantic with Tess. You won’t be sorry.

 

Lesson Plan Ideas:

*Research the sinking of the Titanic.

*Research the fashion trends in the early 1900s.

*Research Lady Duff Gordon and Coco Chanel.

*Discuss the importance of respecting those who are different than us.

*Discuss Lady Duff Gordon’s attitude toward others.

*Look at dress patterns from the 1900s. Try your hand at designing and sewing something. 

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