Anne is a cheese-fed daughter of Wisconsin, but don’t hold it against her. She wishes that the band Led Zeppelin never broke up. And she enjoys fitness and exercise so that she can play with her two awesome granddaughters.
Thirty years later, Eva has transformed herself into Sally Gilmartin, a 60 year old widow, mother and grandmother living in the Cotswolds. But in spite of her new life, Eva has never stopped looking over her shoulder. Convinced that her life is still in danger, she tells her daughter Ruth her story and in turn recruits Ruth to help her find Romer, the man whom she had loved years ago, the man who betrayed her.
Restless, an intriguing historical thriller, is somewhat based on an actual branch of British intelligence that was formed to coax America into WWII. Eva's fascinating story is a great illustration of how even the most minor characters played significant and pivotal roles in the events leading up to WWII.
The backbone of the story was derived from the actual transcripts of the Senate hearings that took place to investigate the tragedy. Alcott's novel humanizes the tragedy, fictionalizing what happened to the real survivors of lifeboat #1 after the ship sank. Why were there only 12 people in that lifeboat, when it could have held 50-60? Lady Lucille Duff Gordon, who in the early years of the twentieth century was the one of the top names in the fashion world, was actually in lifeboat #1, along with her husband Cosmo. In real life, Lady Duff, as she was commonly referred to, was a driven, nasty, tough woman. Alcott gives her this persona in The Dressmaker, but with a hidden softer side as well. She hires Tess Collins as her apprentice seamstress just before they board the Titanic. In the aftermath, Tess stands firm against Madame Lucille's pressure, manipulations and lies about what actually happened, determined to be a success in the U.S. and make it on her own talent. With the Senate hearings conducted by Senator William Alden Smith as a backdrop, The Dressmaker examines the choices people make when faced with a life-threatening situation and how they live with those choices afterward. The impressive caste of characters also makes this believable and intriguing history - the "Unsinkable Molly Brown;" Pinky Wade, the indominable New York Times reporter; Tess's two suitors, Jim and Jack, who also survived the disaster; and Elinor Glyn, Lady Duff's sister, a real-life famous actress and author.