Book Buzz: The Dressmaker’s Dowry

As a first-time novelist writing historical fiction, I have a newfound appreciation for writers who excel at that genre. It is no mean feat to capture the time period authentically in every way: with dialogue, clothing, scenery, etc. I can tell you that Meredith Jaeger does that quite successfully in The Dressmaker’s Dowry, her debut novel about two women separated by 140 years.

Book Buzz: The Dressmaker's Dowry

The Dressmaker’s Dowry

Set in San Francisco and alternating in time between the present day and in the mid-1800s, The Dressmaker’s Dowry features modern day Sarah, a writer fascinated with an unsolved mystery and Hannelore, an immigrant dressmaker who disappeared from the gritty San Francisco streets.

The setting for Hannelore’s story is rich with sensory detail: the acrid stench in the gutters, the clatter of horse carriages careening down the rutted streets, the foreboding sense of danger around every corner.

Hannelore and her friend Margaret are seamstresses in an exclusive dress shop that services the wealthy matrons of the city. They both have younger siblings whom they struggle to provide for. Their home lives are dark and perilous, and they lean on each other for comfort.

One day a man from a privileged family enters the shop and strikes up a conversation with Hannelore, and her life takes an unexpected turn. But the very next morning Margaret has gone missing, sparking fear and a frenzied search. And later, Hannelore disappears as well.

Sarah’s story takes place in her beautiful Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Coming from a modest background and married into a socially prominent San Francisco family, Sara withholds a secret from her past that she feels could destroy her marriage. She is struggling to complete a novel and then discovers a headline from 1876: Missing Dressmakers Believed to Be Murdered. Instantly intrigued, she puts the novel aside and puts on her journalist’s hat, determined to tell the story of these two women from generations ago. She becomes engrossed in the mystery and temporarily puts her insecurities on hold.

In the process of her investigation, she stumbles upon a shocking fact: she and Hannelore may be linked in ways she could have never expected. What is the connection, and will Hannelore’s disappearance ever be solved?

This is a riveting story, full of suspense and drama. As a fan of historical fiction, I love all the research that went into The Dressmaker’s Dowry, especially about the lives of the immigrants who came to San Francisco in search for a better life and endured so much hardship. The photos at the end of the book are a nice touch as well, giving the reader a visual bonus to the satisfying conclusion of the story.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of The Dressmaker’s Dowry. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen randomly. USA addresses only, please.


I received a copy of The Dressmaker’s Dowry from William Morrow for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.


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59 Thoughts on “Book Buzz: The Dressmaker’s Dowry

  1. I definitely am going to read this! Thanks Helene.

  2. You hooked me early on, Helene. I love historical fiction and this story sounds so intriguing. It’s going on my book list today!

    Now I’ll be wondering how these women are linked….

  3. I’m also an historical fiction fan. San Fran at turn of the last century–great time period. And what could be better now than to read about immigrant experiences–and to remind ourselves that we are a nation of immigrants. It’s what enriches this country

  4. This sounds like a terrific story and the setting in my favorite city. I hope I win!

  5. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and I love stories like this that alternate between time periods! Pinning this to my books to read list!

  6. Jessica Taylor on March 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm said:

    This sounds like a lovely book. I need to add it to my read list!

  7. robin Rue on March 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm said:

    That sounds like a great read. Adding it to my reading list now.

  8. Elise on March 2, 2017 at 3:05 pm said:

    Sounds like my kind of book! Hope it spurs you on with your writing!

  9. This book sounds really intriguing. I’ll add it to my list.

  10. Sounds like a good read. Not normally my genre but sounds like I might have to check it out.

  11. I’m a huge reader and this sounds like a good read! Might have to add this to my list.

  12. Bernadette Callahan on March 2, 2017 at 4:07 pm said:

    140 years is a long time! Sounds interesting. Might be something to add to my summer reading list.

  13. Amanda H on March 2, 2017 at 10:15 pm said:

    This sounds like an interesting read. I need to check it out.

  14. Cristina Leau on March 3, 2017 at 1:10 am said:

    I have to read this. Is there a movie based on this story as well?

  15. Wow I love these kinds of books! I need to pick this one up if I can find it in Canada. Wish I lived in the US to enter!

  16. Oh I wish I had more time to read. It is probably what I miss most about prebaby days. This sounds like a book that I would really enjoy!

  17. I love historical fiction as well but as a writer myself, I’ll stick to reading it because I realized on my first attempt that there was just too much research involved. I’d rather spend more of my time writing from my imagination than researching and finding ways to incorporate that into my prose. For me, the most research I do is with Google Maps as it is much easier to write directions in a small French village than it is to actually visit that village. It may not be as authentic but it is verifiable which is more important to me.

    • hbludman on March 5, 2017 at 3:47 pm said:

      I am finding the same thing, Richard, which is why historical fiction writers have my sincere admiration.

  18. colleen wool on March 3, 2017 at 1:01 pm said:

    This books sounds very interesting. I will definitely be reading this.

  19. Sounds like a good read. Will look into the book.

  20. I love historical fiction. I even ended up taking a course on it… not really good with writing fiction but love this genre. This book sounds fascinating.

  21. I hope you will pick me. I got intrigued right away. I like when women are the ones solving mysteries. I feel like we have a better approach to these kinds of things.

  22. I have been on the look out for a different genre to read and this sounds fabulous. I do love a good mystery. And you have piqued my interest with your fantastic review!

  23. Currently creating my summer reading list and this sounds like a fascinating one! Well check it out.

  24. This sound like a wonderful book. The front cover is lovely. xx

  25. Looks like an interesting read – I’ll have to check it out!


  26. Elizabeth O. on March 6, 2017 at 10:21 am said:

    This sounds like my kind of book. I love historical fiction, it doesn’t just feed your imagination, it takes you back in time as well.

  27. This sounds like an amazing book. Historical fiction is always a good read for me, especially since I find history fascinating and interesting.

  28. I haven’t read a book in forever! I hope someone awesome wins it!

  29. Ruth on March 6, 2017 at 5:32 pm said:

    This is right up my alley. I look forward to reading

  30. Definitely gonna read this one. It looks like an amazing read!!

  31. Sounds like an interesting read. I’ll need to add it to my reading list. Thank you!

  32. This sounds such an amazing book! The plot is awesome! I really want to know now how they may be connected! 🙂

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