Title/Author: The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
Publisher: William Morrow
In a nutshell (Publisher):
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, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.
Verdict: A great heartwarming read!
Told in 2 timelines, 3 point-of-views – Ann, Miriam and Heather
London, 1947: Britain’s post-war economy and rationing left everyone and everything grim and gloomy. So the Princess Elizabeth’s wedding announcement was a nice temporary distraction and reprieve for everyone. This historical day also forged an unlikely friendship between two very different individuals, but who needed one another more than they know. Ann and Miriam’s friendship blossomed throughout the years but one incident forced Ann to go her separate way.
Toronto, 2016: Heather was on a mission: to uncover the story behind a special package her grandmother left behind for her. Her grandmother, Nan, hadn’t been one who talks much of her past. Will this package reveal anything? The package contained some priceless embroideries that resembled the motifs on the wedding gown of Queen Elizabeth II seventy years before. Why is that her Nan never mentioned a word about something so significant?
Heather’s mission to uncover the story led her to opening old wounds, discovering closely guarded secrets, heartbreaks and love that spanned generations.
Heartfelt, captivating and beautifully written. Yes, this book is about THE gown; we get to go behind the scenes of the making of Princess Elizabeth’s gorgeous star-patterned fan-shaped bridal train that was 13 feet (4.0 m) in length, designed by Norman Hartnell and learn about the dedication and hard work of the embroiders who for him, but it is also about love, loss, and grief, and covered topics like rape, the Holocaust and anti-semitism without being too heavy.
What captivated me most was the strong female characters portrayed, and the friendship between Ann and Miriam – it was honest and selfless, and they were loyal, supportive and protective of each other. The camaraderie among their fellow embroiders was very heartwarming too! I loved how they look out for each other.
I also loved the bond and connection between Heather and her mother. The way they interacted with each other was casual yet there was so much love and trust in it. A contrast from mine! But it’s better now with my little girl in the picture. She brings us closer, as she insists on video chatting with her and her grandpa everyday lol
If you’re looking for a quick yet absorbing read, one that has likeable characters throughout, then this is it.
Best time to read this? Christmas! Where? By your fireplace all snuggled up with a hot chocolate! Ahhhh… Bliss!
Have you read this? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to read it? Or have you read something quite similar to this?Please share with me your thoughts!
Looking forward to meeting the author at this year’s Decatur Book Festival!