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 weddingLondon, 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.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and #1 Toronto Globe & Mail bestselling author of Somewhere in France, After the War is Over and Moonlight Over Paris. She holds a doctorate from Saint Antony’s College, University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Told in three perspectives, the past in 1947 London and the present that starts in 2016 Toronto, the story is narrated by three characters. Ann, Miriam and Heather, and the interconnection of the three is truly magical. Ann is a working-class girl who, at the age of 14, was apprenticed to the embroidery rooms of Norman Hartnell, couturier to Queen Mary and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, as well as a legion of society women. Miriam, a French Jew has arrived in London with some samples, two references and a list of houses that may be able to provide her work as an embroiderer. Miriam survived the occupation and a camp, only to find herself unable to stay in Paris, alone and without family – so to London she goes. A bold decision on Miriam’s part puts her in front of Mr. Hartnell, and whisked off to the embroidery rooms, where she meets Ann and the others. With a friendly atmosphere, the two start to get to know one another, and a last-moment situation has Ann offering Miriam a room to rent, while the two are little more than friendly strangers, they have the work in common, and soon their trust builds. While Ann’s introduction to a toff that Miriam finds “oily” can only lead to trouble, Miriam’s introduction to a magazine owner / editor / journalist only can lead to good things for her. But this is about the embroidery – the goodwill and wishes for the young bride’s happiness, and the frenzy about the design – kept secret and hidden from the press, even the women working on the dress weren’t allowed to share the information. Yet aside from the monumental event and the dress itself, ‘sample’ pieces of embellishment were created, only to be unearthed by Ann’s granddaughter Heather some 80 years later. It is Heather’s quest to know her Nan, someone who never mentioned England or why she left, never mentioned being involved with the gown, or even being in Westminster on the day, shared little to nothing about sewing or embroidery, but owned and ran a knitting / wool shop until she retired. What Robson has done here is told 2 women’s stories about life after the war, their worries, struggles, concerns and their unwavering dedication to the work they performed, even when they couldn’t share a bit of info. With painstaking research and some glimpses into the massive numbers of hands required to create such a masterpiece, what never gets lost is the heart. The heart of a woman who was so determined to make a new life that nothing from her past was shared, another whose entire life and sense of self were threatened and endangered by a hateful regime, yet who never forgot the first friend she made or her promises to that friend, and the heart of a granddaughter, seeking answers to questions that she couldn’t have asked of her grandmother, uncovering secrets long held, and doing so in a way that the story unfolds and shares a single year in 1947, with all the ties to the present. I’ve always heard (from grandparents) the story of the Princess Elizabeth’s wedding and the boost that it gave the struggling citizens of England – with rationing, shortages and survival being little to celebrate. And Robson managed to bring the story to us in ways that made it feel personal and something that you would want to invest your time and emotion. Each moment of triumph is celebrated, the relief when the gown is complete, and the retelling of the wedding day itself, from those invited as a thank you to those working behind the scenes.
I wrote the same on Amazon because I bought the physical copy and audible version. She has done it again! Jennifer is an amazing author who really knows how to tell a story. She tells them from varying perspectives in this book and doesn't skip a beat! She thoroughly researches each book she writes and most fans of Jennifer's will notice some appearances by past characters we grew to know and love. I know each time I get a book by Jennifer that I won't be able to put it down and will be captivated by the story, as if I myself am in it. Thank you Jennifer for such wonderful work and I look forward to the next book!
Thank you William Morrow Books for a free copy to review! Written in dual time periods and from the point of view of three women, I found this to be a captivating read. At the heart of this novel is the friendship between Ann and Miriam. Both have suffered great losses and are alone in the world. Miriam, hides the pain she suffered in France as a Jew under the Nazi regime. Together they start to make a new life for themselves as Britain too, finds its feet after the war. You can imagine how bright and hopeful life for these two girls would be; knowing their work on such a gown would be part of history. I always love how Jennifer Robson connects her novels by overlapping characters from previous novels. I wont spoil it, but lets just say an endearing character from Goodnight From London gets a sequel in this novel. This well researched glimpse into post war Britain, really gives you a feel for the struggles the nation faced in their recovery, both in economy and morale. I thoroughly enjoyed this one! If you have Anglophile tendencies; grab a copy, brew a pot of tea, and snuggle in for a satisfying read!
Review Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “The Gown” by Jennifer Robson Kudos to Jennifer Robson, Author of “The Gown” for vividly writing and describing the enchanting, emotional, exciting, heartbreaking, enthralling and intriguing novel about one of the most famous Royal wedding dresses in history and the workers who created it. The Genres for this story are Historical Fiction, and Romance. The timelines for this story are in the past after World War Two, and in the present. The story goes further in the past only when it pertains to the characters in the events in the stories.The story takes place in England, France, Canada, and the United States. The author describes her colorful characters as hardworking, creative, complex and complicated perhaps to the events in history. In 2016, in Toronto, Heather Mackenzie is left some material with exquisite embroidered flowers in an envelope addressed to her from her late grandmother, Nan. Heather has no idea what they mean. They appear to be at least 70 years old, and possibly have something to do that was part of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown. After viewing some pictures of Nan, and some friends from years ago, Heather wants the opportunity to go to London to learn what Nan’s live was like. Nan was a quiet woman, and never shared many parts of her life. When Heather is in London she is trying to find former friends and acquaintances of her grandmother. Heather realizes that there is a huge connection with the famous textile artist Miriam Dassin, a holocaust survivor, and her grandmother. In 1947, Ann Hughes (Nan) and Miriam Dassin feel lucky to be working as embroiderers for the fashion house of Norman Hartnell. In London, it is a cruel cold winter with shortages of fuel, food and many items. After World War Two, England is still trying to recover as most of the world is. Norman Hartnell is known for making gowns for the Royal family. There is a huge fascination with the royal family. Ann and Miriam are living in Ann’s house and go to work together, and become the closet of friends.. Miriam has an exceptional artistic talent and Ann encourages her. Miriam also has deep dark secrets and guilt. When Princess Elizabeth gets engaged at the young age of 21, Norman Hartnell as well as his employees are hoping that they get to design the wedding gown. When Norman Hartnell and staff get to do the gown, extreme measures of secrecy are put in place. Newspapers and journalist are trying to get information on the royal wedding gown. Unscrupulous people are willing to pay a fortune to get information about the gown to make money. These are still desperate and dangerous times. The “Gown” represents to many of the workers hope, and faith and love. What does Heather learn about her grandmother and Miriam Dassin’s relationship? Why has Nan been so secretive about her life? How does this tie into the making of the most famous gown in history? The author is an amazing storyteller, and the details of how hard it was for the workers getting the materials, and making the designs was so intriguing. I would recommend this book for readers that love the genre of Historical Fiction.