This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic--an international tragedy that's captivated the public imagination for generations. Kate Alcott's evocative new novel, The Dressmaker, brings that era to life--imaging the experiences of a young survivor whose life is forever changed by that fateful voyage. In this exclusive guest blog post, Alcott reveals what inspired her to write a novel about the impact that the Titanic tragedy had on one fictional aspiring dressmaker.
I first heard about the Titanic in a book I picked up in the school library. It had sunk many years before my mother set out across the sea in steerage on her own voyage, but my imagination leaped to all the people like her who died in the frigid waters of the Atlantic. I wanted to know more; their stories drew me.
I searched through archives, read the newspapers reporting this tragedy; tried to imagine what the terror and confusion had been. When that doomed ship went down, all that was left of the known world for the survivors was a moonless night where water and sky blended. With it went much of the hubris and arrogance of the era. The survivors floated in lifeboats, listening to the cries of the dying, left with the questions that would haunt many of them all their lives. What did it mean to be brave? Or cowardly?
It came as a jolt to realize how little most people know about what happened after the ship sank. People aren’t aware that the U.S. Senate held hearings at which many of the survivors testified –and soon I began reading their testimony. And oh, how their raw voices break through, cutting sharp across the years.
I felt drawn into the lives of many of them, exploring their stories. This brought me to Lady Lucile Duff Gordon, a famous designer who was the Chanel of her time. How could it be that she escaped in a lifeboat with twelve people; a life boat that could have held between forty and sixty? Did she really order the crew not to go back for survivors flailing in the water? In a time of hysterical press coverage, her actions ignited a firestorm in the newspapers. And caught in the aftermath, her fate bound tightly to that of Lady Duff Gordon,– is Tess, the servant girl determined to do the right thing, dreaming of being a dressmaker.
I know her.
A free sample excerpt from this book is available for download on the product page now!
NOOK owners: go to shop and search for "Kate Alcott” to download this captivating historical novel.
You must be a registered user to add a comment here. If you've already registered, please log in. If you haven't registered yet, please register and log in.