Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Book Review for A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tessa Arlen

 Title: A Dress of Violet Taffeta

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.


My Thoughts:

I love this book that shows so much about the strength of a woman who left her abusive husband and found a way to raise her daughter without the help of a man. A Dress of Violet Taffeta is a true rags-to-riches story.   Lucy makes something of herself when she is forced to find a living and does so in style.  

A Dress of Violet Taffeta is the perfect book for fans of fashion.  Most of the book talks about who Lucy is dressing, what she is dressing them in, and where they are wearing it.   There were some powerful names that came to Lucy to dress them.  The descriptions of the dresses she makes were so wonderful that I could picture the dresses and I love that she named them based on feelings, people, or the fabric. 

The synopsis talks about the Titanic and the book does have Lucy on the ship when it sinks but it was not a main part of the story, and I was really looking forward to that part of the story.  That is really my only dislike.   I am disappointed that the Titanic did not play a larger part in Lucy’s life and story. 

**Thank you Chelsea Pascoe at Berkley and Austenprose PR for a copy of the book via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.







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.





“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






  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Charlotte. Lucy was such a trailblazer for fashion and women entrepreneurs. Arlen is a fabulous job describing the era and the fashion, and developing the characters. I am looking forward to her next novel.

    1. I so agree. Not only for fashion but for what she did to find a way to keep her and her daughter safe and able to continue to live a good life.