Author: Jennifer Robson
Published by William Morrow on December 31, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: William Morrow, Goodreads Giveaways
Book Rating: 10/10
London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.
Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?
With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages.
Evocative, enchanting, and beautifully written!
The Gown is a captivating, sentimental tale predominantly set in London post-WWII, as well as present day, that follows the lives of three main characters. Ann, a young talented embroider employed by the esteemed Norman Hartnell; Miriam, a Holocaust survivor and émigré from France who becomes Ann’s coworker and close friend; and Heather, Ann’s granddaughter who after discovering embroidered flowers in her grandmother’s possessions after her passing embarks on a journey to determine their significance.
The prose is eloquent and well turned. The characters are flawed, multifaceted, hardworking, and brave. And the plot, along with all the seamlessly intertwined subplots, is an impressive mix of drama, familial dynamics, emotion, secrets, love, loss, duty, heartbreak, passion, and courage; as well as an insightful look at life in postwar London and the importance of female friendships.
Overall, The Gown is a wonderful blend of historical facts and compelling fiction that’s mesmerizing, gripping, nostalgic and perfect for those who love anything royal.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to William Morrow and Goodreads Giveaways for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.