The Time-Traveling Fashionista. Turetsky, Bianca. 272 p. Poppy. 2011. Hardcover $17.99. ISBN 9780316105422.
Fashion + time travel + Titanic? I would have eaten this right up as a twelve year old! As an adult reader, I have to admit that I feel like the plot and characterizations are maybe just a little thin. But this book is definitely a fun, light read for younger teens with a bit of historical interest, and the fashion is divine.
The premise, that a modern-day girl gets transported back to the Titanic by way of a magical dress, is fantastic, and as a self-conscious, fish-out-of-water type, the main character, Louise, will be very relatable for many young readers.
However, I found myself slightly frustrated by the length of time it took her to figure out that she was aboard the Titanic. I have a hard time believing that a true vintage fashion enthusiast wouldn't have seen the Kate & Leo movie about a bazillion times to drool over the gorgeous costumes and therefore soak up some of the details-- like, say, White Star Line, Captain Smith, April 1912...
I mean, I'm merely a casual admirer of vintage fashion, and my husband makes these CRAZY CLAIMS that I saw Titanic in the theater, like, FIVE times. Um, I don't think so, honey! Surely it was only THREE. But whatever, who's counting!?
Ahem. I digress.
So, Louise is perhaps a little slow on the uptake. But I can see why the author chose to write the story that way- it's more fun for the character and the reader to get to enjoy the ship a little first before Louise starts freaking out, right?
I loved reading the detailed and accurate descriptions of the various parts of the ship. Turetsky clearly did her research! I also liked the realistic way in which Louise learns that not everything back then was as glamorous as it might seem from a contemporary perspective-- corsets hurt, feathered hats are awkward to wear, and charming, smooth-talking gentlemen might actually be kinda jerky.
The sinking part of the plot is delightfully suspenseful. Even though you know Louise has to make it off the ship in time, you're still left thinking: BUT HOW!? Happily, the book wraps up with a satisfying end, but Turetsky leaves the door open for more time-traveling fashion adventures. Fun!
In addition to being an enjoyable read, this book is truly gorgeous. The stunning, full-color fashion illustrations in this book are an absolute treasure. Extremely swoon-worthy.
Today is the 99th anniversary of the Titanic's tragic sinking. This may not be a scholarly work- nor is it meant to be- but with its unique fashion-related hook, The Time-Traveling Fashionista may interest young readers who might otherwise shrug their shoulders at learning some history.