Sarah Havensworth has stalled on her novel. Writers block is one thing, but this is to be the thesis for her MFA! As if that weren't bad enough, Sarah also feels guilty about the lack of progress considering she's quit her job and let her husband support her through the endeavor. Though his family has plenty, she's all too aware that she doesn't quite fit the Havensworth mold, something her father-in-law's displeased attitude reminds her of any time the family gets together.
Fortunately, new inspiration strikes when Sarah stumbles upon a story of two missing dressmakers in nineteenth century San Francisco. Dumping the novel, Sarah returns to her journalist roots and decides to pen a narrative non fiction focused on the terrible working conditions in her city's past history, all the while telling the story of Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O'Brien, the two missing women. But as she investigates the century-plus old mystery, secrets new and old begin to threaten her marriage.
The premise of The Dressmaker's Dowry is an intriguing one and I quite enjoyed Sarah's attempts to solve a hundred-year-old mystery. Chapters alternate between Sarah and Hanna, illustrating the events of 1876 alongside Sarah's investigation.
This was an easy one to get sucked into and I thought it was a lot of fun. That said, it was also a bit too easy. Details about Sarah and the other characters are conveniently placed, sometimes awkwardly so, and some pieces of the story definitely come together in a way that's not quite believable. None of the characters is very deeply developed, either, which was a shame because I quite liked both Hanna and (especially) Sarah and would have liked more out of both of them.
While the plot certainly could have benefitted from a bit more complexity, at the moment I must admit that easy breezy is kind of what I needed. I recognize the flaws in The Dressmaker's Dowry but it hit me at the right time and I quite enjoyed it in spite of that.
Historical fiction fans in search of something a bit on the light side will enjoy this first outing from Jaeger.
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