Before I dig into this review, I want to give a bit of backstory. I was out shopping for school supplies with my daughter-in-law when I saw this book in the bargain bin at a bookstore. I loved the cover and the title was intriguing because I felt it would be something my granddaughter would enjoy. I grabbed the book and brought it home where I discovered it was the second in a series. Uh oh! And my public library didn’t have the first book. Ugh! So I did something I typically never ever do. I read the second book first. Which is why, rather than write one review per book I’m writing one review for all three books in the series because why not.
The Time-Traveling Fashionista series by Bianca Turetsky begins with The Time-Traveling Fashionista and On Board The Titanic offers an interesting premise: What if a vintage article of clothing could carry you into the past? This is precisely what happens to vintage clothing aficionado Louise Lambert. When she receives an invitation to a pop-up clothing boutique that specializes in vintage clothes, how can she possibly resist? She can’t. Fortunately, Louise can afford to buy vintage clothing. She lives in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood where she goes to a nice school. Her mother, who cannot cook, is happily married to her father, who obviously makes a good living that supports their upper middle class life.
In other words, all is right in Louise’s world. That is, until she tries on a dress and passes out only to awaken as another person. The first time, she ends up becoming an actress who happens to be on the Titanic. What Louise knows about the ship is limited to the movie but she doesn’t immediately recognize where she is and, for a while anyway, enjoys the fun of dressing up in glamorous clothes and living a luxurious lifestyle.
This marvelous happenstance does come with some limitations, however. Iceberg aside, Louise quickly learns that her reflection reveals her reality. In other words, although everyone sees her as the actress she has embodied, if they were to see her in a mirror or other reflective surface, they would see Louise. For this reason, she must avoid her own reflection when anyone else is around.
This becomes more difficult for her to accomplish in the second novel where she finds herself in the court of Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Hall of Mirrors anyone? Louise is also blissfully ignorant of her French history so isn’t immediately alarmed by where and when she is. She does make an interesting discovery while in France and another when she returns home.
Which leads to her third and final journey to ancient Egypt by way of the movie set for the film Cleopatra. I expected some of the loose threads that were developed in the previous couple of books, and one is cleared up by the book’s end. But more threads are created and a few are not quite tied up.
When I finished the third book, I fully expected there would be at least one more book.
There isn’t. The third book was released 4 years ago and it doesn’t look like there is another being published. For all I know, there weren’t even plans to write a fourth. So the loose threads are, I suppose, only going to be tied up by imaginative readers.
And this is a shame. These novels are fun, a frivolous distraction, complete with lovely illustrations that are reminiscent of fashion advertisements in old newspapers from the 1970s. The drawings by Sandra Suy are a perfect complement to the story and each section of the novels is preceded by a quote. One from Seneca is a rather loose interpretation of its meaning but the quotes from Coco Chanel are more problematic. Yes, she was influential in the fashion world but, in light of her Nazi affiliations, I wish another designer’s words had been featured.
Still, there’s no denying that I enjoyed reading these books and am certain my granddaughter will enjoy them, probably more than I did. I have never been enamored of labels. Fashion designers can make some amazing things but I never looked to invest in something just because someone else’s name is on it. (I lean towards what looks good on me, not what the latest fad might be. And always have.)
It’s unfortunate that the author decided not to write more books or the publisher decided to stop publishing the series. I could imagine several moments in history. The Boxer Rebellion in China. The Spanish Inquisition. The court of Henry VIII. Chicago in the 1920s. So many opportunities to carry Louise’s story forward. But her story ends abruptly and unfinished, loose threads and all.