One of the most anticipated reads from InStyle, HelloGiggles, Hypable, Bookbub, and Bookriot!
One of Real Simple's Best Historical Fiction novels of the year!
“The Gown is marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war.”--Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Jennifer Robson’s The Gown is a real treat for lovers of historical fiction. It’s 1947 and London is a shell of its prewar self—food is being rationed, buildings are bombed out, and almost everyone has lost someone they love. Just when England most needs a distraction from its misery, a royal wedding is announced, and two lonely young seamstresses work together to embroider the princess’ exquisite gown. This sweet, compelling story of female friendship totally pulled us in.
Robson (Moonlight over Paris) delivers a satisfying multigenerational epic linked by the intricate embroidery used on Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown. In 1947 London, Ann Hughes works as an embroiderer at Hartnell, an exclusive clothing designer whose designs have been worn by the royals. Ann lost her brother during the Blitz and now lives with her widowed sister-in-law Milly. When French migr Miriam Dassin starts working as an embroiderer at Hartnell, she and Ann become friends, and she moves in with Ann after Milly leaves England to live in Canada with her brothers. After Hartnell is chosen as the designer for Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress, Ann and Miriam work on the dress's embroidery. The story jumps forward to 2016 Canada when journalist Heather Mackenzie's grandmother dies and leaves her a box with beautifully embroidered fabric. She had disclosed little of her life in England before emigrating to Canada, and Heather travels to London to uncover the secrets of her grandmother's life in London and her friendship with Miriam, now a celebrated artist. Robson's meticulous attention to historical details notably the intricacies of the embroidery work is a wonderful complement to the memorable stories of Ann and Miriam, making for a winning, heartwarming tale., Correction: this review originally misnamed a character.
The Gown in question is Queen Elizabeth II wedding gown and its creation not from the point of view of the designer but from that of the women that actually did the work of construction and embellishment. Set in the cold grey London of 1947 the wedding provided a distraction from the post war shortages. The stories of the women are perhaps a smidge predictable but the book is a nicely written quick read.
Will Not Disappoint!
If you loved The Crown you will not be disappointed by The Gown! Loved the characters and the peek into the imagery of what life was like for these ladies who never seek credit, yet are due so much more than their daily wages.
Read this in just a few sittings. Lovely fictionalized story of two women who worked on the queen’s wedding gown. Goes from the past to present with grandchildren of the ladies. Easy to read but quite smartly written.