Happy Monday, Happy New Year’s Eve, and Happy Publication Day to The Gown! Today I have a review of this brilliant work of historical fiction written by Jennifer Robson and publishing via William Morrow.
Told in three voices over two time periods, The Gown is a stunning story.
In 1947 London, knee deep in a harsh winter with heavy rationing, the war has left its indelible mark. Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin are embroiderers working at the famous Mayfair owned by Norman Hartnell. Why is Hartnell famous? For designing clothing for the princesses. And what is the assignment of the 20th century that has befallen them? Making none other than future Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown.
In Toronto present day, Heather Mackenzie has found a set of embroidered flowers passed down from her beloved late grandmother. Heather discovers the flowers look much like those on Queen Elizabeth’s gown, and she wants to know why. She also uncovers a connection between her grandmother and Norman Hartnell who was known to have designed the Queen’s wedding dress.
The Gown is a well-researched work of historical fiction. The detail kept me entranced and also had me googling and yearning to know more. The friendship that forms between Anne and Miriam is tenderly drawn, and the emotional bonds and healing that resulted from that relationship is awe-inspiring.
I didn’t expect to be as absorbed in The Gown as I was. It can be hard to focus during the holidays, and my mind was in so many places. It served as a wonderful reminder of why I read historical fiction; to be transported to a different time and place and to learn. The Gown is an exquisite story of strength and friendship from start to finish. Highly recommended!
Thank you to the publisher for the complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.
“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding
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.
Have you read The Gown, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR