Tag Archives: Journalism

Book Buzz: The Dressmaker’s Dowry

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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I am My Father’s Daughter

My dad’s high school English teacher wrote the following on his yearbook cover:

To Irv,

 You have a future in journalism!

Miss Ludwig

Miss Ludwig was an excellent judge of talent but her prediction proved to be wrong, for my dad set his sights elsewhere. Fresh out of college and recently married, he had all the markings of an entrepreneur: ambition, drive, passion and an intuitive business sense. Maybe a touch of chutzpah as well. He borrowed a few thousand dollars to launch a manufacturing company that would be the first of many successful ventures over a long career.

As his business grew, he experienced both the rewards and challenges of being a sole proprietor. Clearly there were times of stress and disappointment as well as intense satisfaction. There were demands made on him, contracts to settle, conflicts to deal with.

All I knew, as his daughter, was that my daddy was the funniest and kindest man in the world, and when he came home in time for dinner every night he was all about us, his family. I don’t remember him ever working in the evenings or on weekends.

He was a doting, affectionate, hands-on dad, always.

Dad liked to get in my playpem with me.

Dad and I in my playpen

 But back to journalism.

 So he didn’t become a professional journalist. His oeuvre is pretty much limited to the occasional letter he sent me at summer camp or a funny poem for one of my children. I have kept every one of them.

 Like any gifted writer, my dad is a voracious reader, and we share an affinity for the well-crafted story. As I grew older, he introduced me to the works of John Updike and John O’Hara, two terrific authors who hailed from our little corner of Pennsylvania, and a third John, John Irving, whose writing and character development we found remarkable.

My dad enjoys sharing articles that he knows I will like. Recently he cut a story out of The Wall Street Journal about a girl who loved horses (I always have). If there is a thought-provoking article in this week’s The New Yorker we will discuss it. An opinion piece by one his favorite columnists in The New York Times can inspire a conversation.

My dad and I appreciate the beauty in many forms of art, and literature is one we almost always agree about. We can marvel over a cleverly strung phrase with as much gusto as we admire a painter’s canvas or a sculptor’s carving.

 If I am my father’s daughter, it is because we can lose ourselves, and find ourselves, in great literature.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Dad holding me on his lap and reading

We have always shared a love of reading.

 

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