The Dressmaker’s Dowry by Meredith Jaeger – 384 pages
An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom…
San Francisco: 1876 – Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O’Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city’s most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna’s future is altered forever. With Margaret’s encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him.
San Francisco: Present Day
In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist.
My Review: 3.5 stars
The Dressmaker’s Dowry is a fast paced historical mystery and romance wrapped up in chick lit. I flew through this novel and learned quite a bit about San Francisco’s early history. That was an unexpected treat.
The author’s own engagement ring from 1903 was the inspiration for this parallel time period novel. I’ll start by saying that I was more connected to the historical aspect of this story. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m a big fan of historical fiction or because the current day story fell short. I really liked the main the protagonist in the current day storyline, but I found it contrived that such a big secret in her life wouldn’t be shared with her adoring (read as too good to be true) husband. All other aspects of her life were relatable, so perhaps that was it. I found her journalist’s sprit, arduous investigation skills and often-fruitless leads to unearth the truth quite fascinating. I appreciated the details that went into her search for information.
The squalor and hard times that befell the two dressmakers was unbearable at times. It felt hopeless and the author’s descriptions brought the sounds and smells to life. The responsibility that these young girls had to bear was reprehensible. I’m glad we saw at least one of them get out and flourish.
There was a good amount of old fashioned romance, which was a welcome rarity. I’m looking forward to reading more of Meredith Jaeger’s books.
Quotes I liked:
So long as my mouth was full, I wouldn’t say something rude that I’d regret later.”
-“Perhaps this was customary, as every proper woman believed herself to be merely an extension of her husband, silent and passive.”