Happy Sunday, everyone! With it being a holiday weekend it definitely doesn’t feel like a Sunday and can’t say I’m upset about not having to set a 5am alarm tomorrow!
Thanks to Berkley Pub and Austenprose PR for the gifted copy!
A DRESS OF VIOLET TAFFETA – Tessa Arlen (Releasing July 5th, 2022)
A sumptuous novel based on the fascinating true story of Belle Epoque icon Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, a woman determined to shatter the boundaries of the fashion world and support herself and her young daughter with her magnificent designs.
Lucy Duff Gordon knows she is talented. She sees color, light, fabric, and texture in ways few other people do. But is the world ready for her? A world dominated by men who would try to control her and use her art for their own gain?
After being deserted by her wealthy husband, Lucy is desperate to survive. She turns to her one true talent to make a living. As a little girl, the dresses she made for her dolls were the envy of her group of playmates. Now, she uses her courageous innovations in Belle Époque fashion to support her own little girl. Lucile knows it is an uphill battle, and a single woman is not supposed to succeed on her own, but she refuses to give up. She will claim her place in the fashion world; failure simply is not an option.
Then, on a frigid night in 1912, Lucy’s life changes once more, when she becomes one of 706 people to survive the sinking of the Titanic. She could never have imagined the effects the disaster would have on her career, her marriage to her second husband, and her legacy. But no matter what life throws at her, Lucile will live on as a trailblazing and fearless fashion icon, never letting go of what she worked so hard to earn. This is her story.
My Thoughts: 4/5 stars
A historical fiction novel as beautifully written as the dresses designed by Lucy Duff Gordon. While I love horror and thrillers, historical fiction is another favorite genre of mine. You know you’ve come across a real gem of a historical fiction novel when you’re instantly transported to another time and get lost in the incredible detail and atmosphere. A DRESS OF VIOLET TAFFETA is my introduction to Tessa Arlen and I can guarantee I’ll be looking for more by her in the future.
I knew next to nothing about Lucy Duff Gordon, her life, and her incredible contribution to the fashion world. The amount of research Arlen put into this shines through and the descriptions of the truly elegant dresses is perfection. Now, don’t think this is only about the fashion, this is also a story about her life and how she became the success that she was. It wasn’t an easy journey and she dealt with her share of betrayals and hardship and I think Arlen captured her emotions very well. You experience it all alongside her and I loved the alternating POVs between Lucy and her scullery maid Celia, who would later become her business partner. I learned a lot more about Lucy, by reading Celia’s chapters as she described her life working for Lucy.
I highly recommend this to fans of fashion and historical fiction. I learned a lot and I’ll always appreciate that after finishing a book in this genre. Now, time to look for more from Arlen’s backlist!
“Fans of the 1991 BBC series The House of Eliott will find familiar comfort in Arlen’s descriptions of fabrics, colorworks, and evolving fashions.” —Library Journal
“Tessa Arlen’s novel is as elegant as a Lucille gown, full of movement, color and beauty…For anyone interested in fashion, in the Gilded Age, in stories about strong, visionary woman, Tessa Arlen’s novel is a must read!” —Jeanne Mackin, author of The Last Collection
“A sumptuous treat of elegant prose, evocative descriptions, and compelling emotions. Arlen’s writing absolutely shines.” —Anna Lee Huber, USA TODAY Bestselling author of A Perilous Perspective
“Tessa Arlen delivers a fascinating tale based on the real-life fashion icon, Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, who went up against a male dominated industry and revolutionized it…A must read for fashion fans everywhere.” —Renee Rosen, USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces
“…written in a sumptuous, engaging style that appeals to all the senses and brings Lucy, her creations, and her world vividly alive.” —Alyssa Maxwell, author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries
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About the Author:
Tessa Arlen writes historical fiction when she is not toiling away in her garden. She is the author of the Edwardian mystery series: Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson; the Woman of World War II mystery series. Poppy Redfern. And two standalone historical novels: In Royal Service to the Queen, and A Dress of Violet Taffeta.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jessica, Great review. Lucy was an intrepid trailblazer in fashion and entrepreneur in business for women. Arlen did a fabulous job re-creating the era, describing the fashions, and developing the characters and I look forward to her next novel.
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Thank you for having me on the tour (so sorry about the mix up on my part!). I’ve been looking up her other books already!