“A Dress of Violet Taffeta” Book Tour

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

Book description:

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, headshot

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.

Advanced Praise:

“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


Author Bio:

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.


Read an EXCLUSIVE interview with Tessa HERE about her book!

Evening dress of bright leaf green and red shot silk designed by Lady Duff-Gordon 1918

My review:

This was such a fascinating story! I had never heard of Lucile Wallace or her designs but I love Edwardian stories especially with the Titanic and I was eager to learn more about her and to look up her life and designs online.

I really loved the relationships of the women, this book jumps from Lucy’s POV to her assistant Celia’s. You are able to see the up and downstairs look into the overwhelming process of making clothes! I have a new appreciation for seeing pictures of old gowns because its the product of hundreds of hours, blood, sweat and tears.

This line from Celia about Lucy, ‘Mrs. Wallace expected great things, she exhorted everyone who worked for her to strive for perfection, but she was one of the most fairminded and just of employers: tactful in her criticism, generous with her praise.’ (pg 147)

Cosmo is the best, he’s so patient and steady. This quote from Cosmo regarding Lucy, “Mrs. Wallace is a headstrong woman; nothing can persuade her when she has an idea firmly fixed in her head. You cannot accuse yourself if she is sick in bed. If you think she’s stubborn, you should meet her sister.” (pg 147)

Sometimes Lucy drove me crazy by being too much in her head thinking of fashion but I suppose that’s how it would’ve been. She had a difficult time balancing work and family life which is still true today for anyone working. I liked that she was flawed and doing her best, just like the rest of us. She was scrappy and found a way to support her daughter, enjoy what she was doing and didn’t need a man after James’ poor treatment of her.

This is a great story about courage, following your dream, turn of the century, women’s fiction. I never realized how much Lucy changed the fashion industry. The writing was so descriptive, I wish I could touch all the fabrics! But its so delicate that I probably shouldn’t touch it 😉

Thank you to the publisher, Berkley, and Austenprose PR for the gifted copy of ‘A Dress of Violet Taffeta’. These are my own thoughts and opinions.

To see more pictures of Lucy, Cosmo and Lucille dresses, check out these links:

Happiness dress

Lucy and Cosmo

Encyclopedia Titanicia

By Leslie_G

I love books and anything bookish!

1 comment

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


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: