Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review: Review: The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson

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.

Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: December 31st 2018
 by William Morrow Paperbacks
****

The Gown is Jennifer Robson's new book which releases the end of this month. A dual time period that is current day and one taking place a few years after the 2nd world war ended. I loved that setting, it’s not a setting I see much of and reading about the struggles after the war was interesting.

The 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip was perfect timing for the release of this book.  With the media hype, tv specials and more enhancing my reading experience.  I loved the past storyline, it’s 1947 with England still recovering from the war, yes life goes on, it isn’t easy for most and harder still for others - Miriam and Ann are new friends with the Norman Hartnell binding them together. I enjoyed reading about the process of their work there, the secrecy of the making and how it’s done.

As usual, it’s the past story that really captivates me, not that I didn’t like the present day one here, I just think it’s the history nerd in me that draws me to learning new things from the past. Present day Heather is set in uncovering secrets her grandmother had. With her travels around London, it has reinforced my desire to travel and see the area for myself.

Definitely a book I recommend not just for the unique storylines but a writing style that kept me entertained.  Thanks to Harper Collins Canada for an ARC provided at a recent English Tea with the author.