Saturday, January 26, 2013
Once aboard, Tess realizes that she is competing in her own private Project Runway, with Lucy serving as a very harsh judge. Everything changes when, well, you know what happens next.
Anyhow, in real life and in the novel, Lucy and her husband survive aboard lifeboat 1, with 10 other passengers. Tess doesn't make it to that lifeboat, but I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that she does manage to find her way to America. On the Carpathia, where the movie, "Titanic" ends, the drama in The Dressmaker begins. Even before the survivors make it to the dock, an inquiry has begun into why the Titanic sank, and why so few passengers survived. Tess becomes friendly with a crewman who was in the Duff Gordon's lifeboat, and quickly begins to worry that the Duff Gordons were not exactly heroic in their escape. Heidi Klum always tells Project Runway contestants, "As you know in fashion, one day you're in. And the next day, you're out". Lucy learns this as public opinion turns against her even before she can show her latest designs.
Once in America, Tess makes friends with a writer covering the story of the Titanic survivors, Pinky Wade. Pinky teaches Tess about life in America for real women, in contrast to life for the extremely wealthy, which Tess learns about from Lucy. Tess also feels a connection with her fellow survivors, the unsinkable Margaret Brown, and a first class millionaire who Alcott appears to have created but who was likely based on a real life survivor. I really liked how Alcott intertwined true stories of the survivors with fictional characters. I found myself checking the list of survivors on Wikipedia to see which characters were really aboard the Titanic and which Alcott created.
For the movie, because there really should be a movie for this one, I would suggest Kate Winslet as Lucy Duff Gordon. Kate's too old to play Tess now, but I would love to see her on the Titanic again. Also, the movie needs to close with "Suffragette" by Nina Gordon playing in the final scene. Who knew we would need a 21st century song about suffragettes? Nina Gordon and Kate Alcott did.
This is one more down for the Off the Shelf Challenge!
Next up on CD: Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Still Reading: My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss