This is good historical fiction about the true story of La Belle Époque (Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon). She overcomes all sorts of obstacles with grace, fortitude, and kindness, to live a life on her own terms, and it is a pleasure to spend some time in her company.
After being deserted by her philandering husband, and divorcing him in the late 1800’s, Lucy built a thriving fashion label in London, regardless of the fact that haute couture was completely dominated by men. She created uniquely flattering designs that brought out each of her clients individual strengths.
Lucy did this by understanding color, texture, fabric, and excellent work, as well as the simple lines that best compliment a woman’s figure. She succeeded in business by treating her employees fairly, almost all of which were women. She was the originator of the fashion show, calling it at the time “a mannequin parade,” an idea whose classy execution was wildly successful.
She not only shattered boundaries in business, but also in societal norms; she got remarried to a titled aristocrat, who didn’t require her to compromise her burgeoning career. She survived the sinking of the Titanic, and was the first to do away with corsets and make more comfortable undergarments.
I’ve read all too much historical fiction that centers around war, and this book is a wonderful change from that. I appreciated Lucy’s independent attitude, her diaphanous gowns based on gorgeous materials, her insistence on equity and quality, her immersive hard work, and her intuitive sense of what would be best in each situation.
The writing here is not astonishing, but neither does it get at all in the way of a good (and true) story. You may also like this novel. I give A Dress of Violet Taffeta four stars.