The Dressmaker's Dowry: A Novel
by Meredith Jaeger
Paperback- $10.87

For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an ...

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  "The Dressmaker's Dowry" by Silversolara (see profile) 02/25/17

From San Francisco 1876 to present day, we learn of the plight of the poor, the privilege of the wealthy, and secrets of a family that connect both eras.

Sarah married into a wealthy family and brought a secret with her that she never revealed to her husband. Her husband's family had a secret too, but he was unaware of it. Or was he?

Sarah was writing her thesis and came across two dressmakers, Hannalore and Margaret, who lived in1876 and who fascinated her because of the story of their lives.

As Sarah researches, she finds connections between the dressmakers and her husband's family.

THE DRESSMAKER'S DOWRY moved us back and forth in time with Hannalore's life story being much more interesting than Sarah's story about her life as the wife of a wealthy man and a journalist.

Hannalore's story tells of her hardships as well as her resilience as she takes care of herself and her three siblings after her mother dies and they escape from their drunken, abusive father.

The characters definitely were authentic especially the wealthy with their fancy clothing and privileges. The destitute were equally well described, and you could feel their pain and suffering through the excellent writing style and descriptions of Ms. Jaeger.


I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction, switching back and forth in time, and finding items from from past to present turning up for a mystery that includes a bit of love. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

  "Engrossing Read" by Betty56 (see profile) 03/26/17

San Francisco was and is a city of many cultures and has a fascinating history. Thus, being a fan of historical fiction, I was quickly drawn into this story that alternated between present day San Francisco and 1876 San Francisco.
Sarah Havensworth, a former journalist, married into the wealthy Havensworth family. They seem to have the perfect marriage; however, as always, one of them has a secret. Sarah had planned to tell Hunter her dark and painful secret before they got married; however, the time just never seemed to be right. And now she is afraid she will lose him when – not if - he finds out. But, unbeknownst to Sarah and Hunter, his family also has a secret.
With her husband Hunter’s financial support and encouragement, she planned to write a historical novel set in 1876 San Francisco for her master’s thesis. However, she just can’t find the inspiration she needs to bring her characters to life on the page.
But one day, as she is browsing through historical events from 1876, a headline pops up: “January 10: Missing dressmakers believed to be murdered”. This is it! But as she researches the story of Hannelore (Hanna) Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien she decides she really doesn’t want to write a novel; she wants to fall back on her former skills as a journalist and write a journalistic narrative. Thus begins her search to find out what happened to these two women. And surprisingly, she finds a link to her husband’s family.
The lives of Sarah and Hanna revealed such a contrast from chapter to chapter. While Sarah was pampered by her husband and wanted for nothing, when Hanna’s mother died she was left to care for her three younger siblings and endure an alcoholic, abusive father. Fortunately Hanna, unlike many women of the time, could read and she had seamstress skills. Margaret, who could not read, had an even harder time surviving. She had more siblings than did Hanna, also had no mother, and had a drunken father.
Ms. Jaeger’s writing style effortlessly flows back and forth between present day and 1876. Her descriptions allowed me to envision how San Francisco must have been in 1876 – the noise of the street vendors and horses, the smells of fresh – and rotting – fish markets, the society ladies strolling in their finest apparels, the poor immigrants just trying to stay alive another day. I remained in suspense throughout the book wondering what happened to these unfortunate girls, and what the tie between them and Hunter’s family was.
This engrossing novel is Meredith Jaeger’s first novel, and I hope it is not her last.

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 08/28/19

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