- Title:A Dress of Violet Taffeta: A Novel
- Author:Tessa Arlen
- Genre:Historical Fiction
- Publisher: Berkley (July 5, 2022)
- Length: (352) pages
- Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook
- ISBN: 978-0593436851
- Tour Dates: June 27-July 11, 2022
A sumptuous novel based on the fascinating true story of La Belle Époque icon Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, who shattered the boundaries of fashion with her magnificently sensual and enchantingly unique designs.
Lucy Duff Gordon knows she is talented. She sees color, light, and texture in ways few people can begin to imagine. But is the male-dominated world of haute couture, who would use her art for their own gain, ready for her?
When she is deserted by her wealthy husband, Lucy is left penniless with an aging mother and her five-year-old daughter to support. Desperate to survive, Lucy 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 creative designs and her remarkable eye for color to take her place in the fashion world—failure 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 fashion label Lucile, her marriage to her second husband, and her legacy. But no matter what life throws at her, Lucy will live on as a trailblazing and innovative fashion icon, never letting go of what she worked so hard to earn.
“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
ONE OF LUCY DUFF GORDON’S DESIGNS
This one’s not violet taffeta, but this 1918 evening dress of bright leaf green and red shot silk is another eye-catching design by Lady Duff Gordon.
What a gorgeously written and beautifully woven work of historical fiction! The accomplishments of “Madame Lucile,” aka Lucy Duff-Gordon, come to life. Tessa Arlen has managed to capture Lucy’s incredible talent and vision for color, and then translate that to the written word for all of us to see. Lucy led an absolutely incredible life, from penniless abandonment by her first husband to building her own business and finding success as a fashion designer. Despite poverty and the scorn of divorce at that time, Lucy took control of her own destiny. At her side is Celia, also impeccably written. Celia is actually a composite of two women who were very important in Lady Duff-Gordon’s life and business. The chapters vary between Lucy and Celia, and this gives us a look at two different class experiences of women in the early 1900s.
I also loved the peeks we get into the very dressing rooms of some of Lucy’s clients, and we get to see the way they are transformed by her amazing gowns. And we watch Lucy find love again. Lucy’s second marriage to Cosmo Duff-Gordon is written in a realistic way with all its ups and downs, especially their presence on and survival of the sinking of the Titanic, the media frenzy afterward, and its effect on their marriage. This is a mesmerizing, captivating work of art that transports us to late 19th and early 20th Century London (and later America). A Dress of Violet Taffeta truly shows us the life of a visionary woman who lived through hard times and made the most of them. Anyone who wants to read an incredible story of grit, determination, and extraordinary talent will certainly enjoy this gem by Tessa Arlen.
I received a free print copy of this book from Berkley Publishing via Austenprose Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
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.
- interview with author Tessa Arlen revealing insights into her new historical fiction novel, A Dress of Violet Taffeta.