Sunday, July 3, 2022

A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tessa Arlen


Followers of my blog know I'm a huge fan of historical fiction. I was asked to be part of the blog tour for A Dress of Violet Taffeta and jumped at the chance. You'll want to grab this novel when it is available on July 5th in the U.S. 

Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon is a fascinating historical figure. She made this a hard-to-put down novel, about her rise from a scandalously divorced woman to one of the most respected and revered clothing designers of the early 20th century. Toss in surviving the Titanic, and you've got a life that seems as if it can't possibly be true-but it is.

Lucy's first husband was a loser who left her practically penniless, with a young daughter. She'd always been intrigued by clothing design, and had an uncanny ability to know exactly what colors and style of dresses would suit women the best. With nothing to lose, she begins designing dresses for the upper crust women of British society, all while making it look to all that it wasn't really "work", but a genteel woman gently giving advice to other women. She grew her business over the years, adding more staff and moving to bigger homes. 

Lucy is a remarkable woman, and her fictional tale is hard to put down. She moved women's fashion forward, and wow! she accomplished a lot. Her second married to Sir Duff-Gordon was beneficial to both, but their trip on the Titanic became a scandal. Surviving in a lifeboat that only held a few people, she was appalled at the terrible tragedy, and was one of the only passengers to testify at the hearings. Her husband became a central figure in the Titanic trials. 

I so enjoyed this novel. The fashion--oh my. Stunning descriptions of color, fabric, and style. A glimpse at a world long gone, and a way of life long gone, too. Lucy and her assistant Celia, along with Lucy's sister Elinor are three strong women, making successes in a society that frowned on strong, independent, smart women. 

Anyone interested in clothing design or fashion, the Titanic, and a woman who helped determine the fashion of the 1890's all the way into the early days of Hollywood will want to dive into this novel. It clips along quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There's plenty online about Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon--photos of her and her clothing, as well as her life. 

A big thanks to Austin PR for inviting me along on this blog tour! Also thanks to Berkley (Penguin/Random House) for a copy of the book. 

Rating: 5/6 for a solid, well researched novel about one of the earlier fashion influencers with an amazing talent and eye for color and fabric. Strong women, independence, taking chances, and female friendship are all major themes in this novel. A truly remarkable trailblazer. Grab it on July 5th!

Available in trade paperback and ebook. 

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