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The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding

Geschrieben von Jennifer Robson

Erzählt von Marisa Calin


The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding

Geschrieben von Jennifer Robson

Erzählt von Marisa Calin

Bewertungen:
4.5/5 (135 Bewertungen)
Länge:
11 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Dec 31, 2018
ISBN:
9780062891983
Format:
Hörbuch

Beschreibung

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.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Dec 31, 2018
ISBN:
9780062891983
Format:
Hörbuch

Über den Autor

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.


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  • (4/5)
    I was completely captivated by this book. The characters, while not historically real, were so believable. The story details the difficulties facing the British in 1947 after the end of World War II and highlights the strength of so many single women who helped carry the nation forward in so many ways. Formidable friendships are forged, present day mysteries call out for explanations that require traveling back to the time of the engagement of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten and the creation of her wedding gown. History, strong female friendships, drama, love all tied into a neat package that held my attention.
  • (4/5)
    This novel had intertwining storylines, one set in the present day and one in the 1940s during the wedding of then-Princess Elizabeth. As the present-day Heather seeks to uncover why her recently deceased grandmother had a box of embroidery samples that look like a famous wedding dress, a story emerges of two young women who lived and worked together in 1940s London and who each had a hand in creating a princess's gown. This novel was well-paced and fascinating to read, as the danger and adventure of an earlier age blend well with a more contemporary storyline. This is a great read for historical fiction fans.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book and its window onto the days when garments were sewn by hand, including the trimmings. My embroidery is so poor I cannot imagine anyone being able to create a royal wedding gown! The side story of public housing after the war, the French Resistance, Jewish families avoiding the Nazis and their Yellow Star identification, the post-war era of working women, the social life of working women, and so much more, gave the novel a fullness. The ending left me feeling deflated as the author began a continuation of the story with no real feeling of closure.
  • (5/5)
    What a wonderful book. I loved the story and the history.
  • (4/5)
    The idea of this book was very good as I have never read anything on the subject. It moved along nicely and the author kept it interesting by going back and forth to the present and 1947 when the wedding occurred. I was a bit disappointed. in the writing style of the author but I enjoyed it anyway.
  • (5/5)
    A little while after the death of her grandmother, Heather finds a box containing exquisite embroidered flowers and travels to England to try to find out more about her grandmother's life before she emigrated to Canada. This novels goes back and forth from the past and the present, centering around the workshop of Norman Hartnell, the designer of Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown.
  • (4/5)
    Subtitled, A Novel of the Royal Wedding, Jenifer Robson's novel The Gown imagines the women who embroidered Princess Elizabeth's 1947 wedding gown.Heather is surprised when she inherits samples of embroidery from her grandmother. She had no idea her grandmother could do such beautiful work. Discovering that the samples match the embroidery on Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown, Heather goes on a quest to resurrect her beloved grandmother's buried past.Alternating chapters tell Heather's story and that of her grandmother Anne and her friend Miriam Dassin. The reader is returned to 1947 London and the lingering effects of the war. Patriotism and support for the royal family were at a high and the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth filled the people with expectation, brightening the country with joy.The winning wedding gown design went to Paul Hartnell, a favorite designer of the queen. The women created the elaborate applique and embroidery under strict orders to not talk about their work.Ann Hughes was a lead embroiderer when Miriam Dassin is hired and put under Ann's tutelage. Miriam worked for a prestigious French fashion house before Germany took over her country. The women become roommates and fast friends. Miriam holds her past and Jewish heritage a close secret.One fatal night Ann and Miriam join their coworkers at a dance where they meet the men who would change their lives--for better or worse.I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the actual work process of appliqueing the satin on the tulle. Ann holds Harnell's pattern to the window and traces the design onto a piece of onionskin paper. She then cut the design out and aligns it with the drawing to check it is true. The pattern is placed on the satin fabric and using a needle with its blunt end set into a cork, Ann punches the needle into the fabric along the edge of the pattern piece, the needle separating the weave of the satin to mark the perimeter. With sharp scissors, Anne cuts along the perforated lines to make the applique shape. To attach the applique to the tulle she needle-turned the edges, the tip of the needle turning under the edge of the shape, and with tiny stitches and silk thread, sews it into place onto the silk tulle. After the applique was completed, the embroidery with pearls and beads and diamonds beganAs a needle-turn appliquer, I am familiar with the process. Thankfully, I work with easier materials. Silk thread is fine and results in near-invisible applique stitches, but it is challenging to work with. It is so fine I can hardly see it and it easily slips out of the needle eye. The satin used for the gown has a dense weave but was resistant to taking a crease. So she could not prepare the applique shapes with one of the many methods I use, resorting to needle-turn. This means using the tip of the needle to turn under the very edge of the shape, working in extremely small increments. The seamstress must be careful not to fray the edge of the applique shape, rolling threads under to be caught.Using tulle as an applique base is also difficult. I am used to a woven fabric as an applique base and the needle gently separates the threads. But tulle is not a densely woven fabric, but a net or mesh fabric. The openings in the tulle gives the needles less to anchor to. I tried to applique on nylon tulle and could not get a smooth edge to the applique!Not only where these materials challenging to work with, but the physical demands of the work had to be exhausting. The eye strain from hours of close work, the fabrics and threads all the same color, the reaching to work on a tambour frame, I can imagine the resulting muscle and joint pain! That the ensemble was completed in such a short time is amazing.The novel will appeal to readers of historical fiction and women's fiction, Anglophiles, and anyone interested in fashion history. I won a book from the Book Club Cookbook.
  • (5/5)
    An incredibly well written historical based novel spanning 3 generations and how the making of the queens bridalgown drew together girls whose lives would be changed by this project. So very good! The reader on the audio was excellent!
  • (5/5)
    My favorite book of the year so far. I loved everything about it. Beautifully written historical fiction with characters that will linger with me, it tells not only the story of those whose skill made the wedding gown of Queen Elizabeth, but of life immediately following WW2 and the holocaust. I listened to the audiobook and narration by Marisa Calin was excellent. This book is told from the viewpoint of three women across multiple generations, and was distinctly voiced and easy to distinguish. It made an excellent book stellar.I look forward to reading other books by the author who I was not familiar with previously, but I see has written several books prior to this one.
  • (3/5)
    I thought I'd love this since I really admire the Queen and wondered how she decided on her wedding dress just two years after the end of WWII when strict rationing was still in place. But somehow the stories about the embroiderers were melodramatic and too close to chick lit.Disappointed after I had waited MONTHS for this library copy.
  • (5/5)
    The Gown from Jennifer Robson is the wonderful combination of both a compelling story and a very interesting period in history. With two timelines and three voices, there are many avenues into the story for any reader. And once into the story you will be captivated. I am neither a particularly big Anglophile nor one who cares much one way or the other about the royal family, so this book would seem outside my normal reading. And it is, with the exception of the broad category of historical fiction. But good writing, characters that I care about, and a story that weaves the personal and the public together makes for a great read no matter what one's usual genre preferences are.Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction as well as those readers who simply enjoy reading a well-crafted book. To use the cliche: It made me laugh, it made me cry. It also made me think, which is always a positive in a novel.Reviewed from a copy made available through Goodreads First Reads.
  • (4/5)
    If I say the word wedding gown, what do you think of? Do you think of a royal wedding gown like Princess Grace's, Princess Diana's, Duchess Catherine's, or Duchess Meghan's? If you are royal obsessed, you probably think of some of those much photographed gowns. What about Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown? Do you think of that one? If you were lucky enough to see the "Fashioning a Reign" exhibit at Buckingham Palace in 2016 like I was, you got to see the intricately embroidered gown in person and it is impressive indeed. It was the wedding gown of the future queen but what of the people who made it? Designer Norman Hartnell was credited with the gown but the numerous people who had a hand in its actual creation remain anonymous. Jennifer Robson's new novel, The Gown, focuses on two women who played a major part in the meticulous hand embroidery and on the granddaughter of one, who never knew about the important part her grandmother played in creating Princess Elizabeth's glamorous wedding gown.Ann Hughes had worked in the embroidery room at Norman Hartnell's Mayfair studio for eleven years, creating beautiful embroidery that had graced the royals' and other wealthy patrons' clothing when Miriam Dassin, a Frenchwoman new to London, joined the atelier. The year was 1947, a year of continuing austerity after WWII The winter was brutally cold and food was scarce but at least Ann had a roof over her head, even if her beloved sister in law, her brother's widow, had moved to Canada, leaving her lonely and in search of a roommate. As Ann and Miriam worked together and got to know each other, Ann invited Miriam to move in. These two very different women became good friends as well as co-workers, sharing their secrets and their heartbreaks, the horrors of war and of life afterwards.In 2016, in Toronto, journalist Heather Mackenzie is mourning the loss of her Nan. When she discovers several beautiful floral embroidery samples left to her by her grandmother, she decides to research her Nan's life before she moved to Canada, a life never discussed with her daughter or granddaughter. And when Heather discovers that the embroideries match those on Queen Elizabeth's wedding dress, she is more determined than ever to uncover the past her grandmother never shared, a past that will lead her to the celebrated artist Miriam Dassin and to the realization that her grandmother had a hand in the celebrated wedding gown.There are three different narratives weaving together in this novel, Ann and Miriam in 1947 and Heather in 2016. Ann and Miriam's stories focus on the life of working class young women in the aftermath of the war, their growing friendship, and their dating lives while Heather's story centers mainly on her search to learn more about her late Nan, to uncover the mystery she left behind. Ann and Miriam's stories are a bit more engaging than Heather's, offering more tension and drama than the modern day narrative does. That the 1947 narratives offer a look into the lives of two women who gave their skill and their quiet, unquestionable loyalty in the making of the princess's wedding dress, women who are otherwise anonymous, makes for fascinating reading. Although the wedding gown is central to the story, and to Heather's discovery of information on her Nan, this is as much the story of the necessity of friendship as anything. It is their friendship that helps Miriam confront the nightmare of her past and it is their friendship that gives Ann the courage to do what she ultimately needs to do. It is also that friendship that opens doors and the future to Heather. Readers or Anglophiles looking for engrossing historical fiction, for a tale of women's friendship, or for well done multiple narratives will find this a quick and rewarding read.
  • (5/5)
    The Gown is ostensibly about Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown – and yes, the book does spend some fair amount of time in the workroom of Norman Hartnell but this is really the story of two of the girls who worked on the dress. In the period after WWII England was still suffering from the aftereffects. Everything is rationed and it’s one of the coldest winters London has seen with little coal to be had for heat. The joy of a Royal Wedding is giving the country something to celebrate.Ann is a senior embroiderer working for Mr. Hartnell. She loves her work adorning the dresses for the royal ladies and other wealthy clients. Miriam is a young woman from France who is escaping the horrors of the war and the loss of her family to the Nazis. She uses her determination and skills to land a job at Hartnell’s and soon becomes friends with Ann. The two of them are soon living together and find themselves selected to work on the princess’s wedding dress.Soon after the royal wedding Ann leaves England for Canada and Miriam goes on to become a famous artist. Ann never speaks of her time at Hartnell’s with her family and none of them know of her history. It’s only when a box with her granddaughter Heather’s name on it is found after her death that the questions start being asked about Ann’s life before she came to Canada. Heather decides to go to England to find some answers.I cannot write enough about how much I enjoyed this book. Usually when I read a dual timeline story I prefer one time’s tale to the other’s but in The Gown’s case I loved both. The bulk of the story was spent in the past with Ann and Miriam as is to be expected but Heather’s part of the story is quite interesting as well.I was pulled into the story from the very beginning and I read the book in one day. It was hard to put it down and the only reason I did was to cook dinner. The portion that takes place in the present is perhaps one third of the book but it’s a vital part of the book and it pulls everything together. Given the premise, the heart of the story lies in the portion and Ms. Robson brought post WWII London alive in all of it’s gritty glory. She also develops her characters slowly and deftly so that as a reader you become invested in their lives.Her descriptions of the Hartnell workshop were fascinating. I felt like I was there with the young women as they went to work every morning and lived their excitement when they learned they would be making a wedding dress for the Princess Elizabeth. In a world that is grey, crumbling and bitter cold the joy of a wedding is contagious.The book is more than just the making of this iconic wedding dress, it is also the story of Ann and Miriam; of their friendship and of the relationships that move them into the future. Their friendship is a strong one and the women’s separate tales also make for fascinating reading. Miriam has been through so much as a Jewish woman in France; her family has disappeared and she has survivor’s guilt. Ann has lost family in the war and life is just hard for everyone in its aftermath.Ms. Robson brings post war London alive in vivid detail so that I felt the bitter cold and could taste the weak tea. The stories were captivating in both eras. It’s a book than any history buff or fan of Queen Elizabeth II will love.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed The Gown by Jennifer Robson. It moves back in forth in time and location from post-World War II England to present day Canada, and focuses on the lives of Ann and Miriam, embroiderers who have the privilege of working on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown and Heather, Ann’s granddaughter.When Ann dies she leaves a set of hand-stitched flowers to Heather. This is the first anyone knows that Ann was an embroiderer; she never spoke of her life in Britain, not what work she did nor anything about Heather’s grandfather.Heather and Ann were very close, and Heather feels there must be a special reason that her Nan left these beautiful embroideries to her and feels obligated to find the story behind them. What she discovers is shocking.The Gown is a wonderful story, rich in history and emotion, and vivid descriptions of the hard times and privation in England after the war. Even in 1947 Ann is a very private person. She has experienced heartbreak and hardship and her expectations for happiness are low. She befriends Miriam, however, and they are both honored to be chosen to work on the royal wedding gown.Miriam has come to England from France and has experienced heartbreak and hardship of her own and has secrets she is afraid to share. Her bond with Ann is a blessing for them both. She initially seems like a minor character compared to Ann, but as the story progresses you realize that Miriam’s story has been developing all along as well.Even though Ann is so private and Miriam so secretive and there are many details we don’t know about them, we can feel their cold and hunger, their pain and regret, but also the joy in their work. The Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell comes alive with fascinating, stunning descriptions of the embroidery process.The switch in time and location from 1947 England to 2016 Canada works well. Even though Ann didn’t reveal much of herself, her relationship with her granddaughter Heather is close and special and the embroideries are precious to Heather. Heather’s journey of discovery leads her to unexpected places and people.The characters are varied and well developed. Some were so evil I could hardly stand it, and other were so loving I couldn’t get enough. The story moves smoothly along, with enough mystery to keep me turning pages, and enough joy and love to make me feel fulfilled. I received a copy of The Gown from the author, but a review was not expected nor required, and all opinions are my own. I thoroughly enjoyed The Gown and highly recommend it.
  • (5/5)
    THE GOWN by Jennifer RobsonThe intimate details of every day life in 1947 England, still suffering from the austerity required by the devastation of WWII, are clearly rendered in the lives of two embroiderers working on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. One woman will become world famous, the other will be lost in obscurity when she emigrates to Canada.Richly detailed scenes in ordinary home life (rationed, food, clothing, housing), education, and the workplace make this tale of historical fiction come to life. The reader comes to care about Ann and Miriam as they toil day after day on the peculiarities of embroidered flowers and motifs at Hartnell, a haute couture house of fashion. Robson has done the research. She ably and seamlessly weaves real events and real people into her story. Book groups and history buffs will both find much to love and discuss in this tale.5 of 5 stars
  • (5/5)
    If you were one of the many people who arose at a very early hour in the morning last year to watch Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry and were wowed by Meghan's stunning wedding dress, then Jennifer Robson's dual timeline novel The Gown is perfect for you.It begins in 2016 as Heather receives a phone call from her mother that Heather's beloved grandmother Ann has passed away. Among her belongings was a box with a label that read "For Heather". Inside were some beautiful embroidered applique flowers.Heather did a liitle online research and found that the designs matched the embroidery on Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown from 1947. When Heather loses her journalism job in Toronto, she plans a trip to London to learn more about her grandmother.In 1947, Ann Hughes works as an embroiderer for the esteemed London dressmaker Mr. Hartnell. She enjoys her job, but times were difficult in post-war London. Rationing of food was still going on, and Ann lived with her widowed sister-in-law Milly to make ends meet.When Milly moves to Canada to be with her family, Ann takes on a new roommate. Miriam Dassin is a French refugee who shows up at Hartnell's looking for work. She and Ann become coworkers, friends, and roommates, even though Miriam is closemouthed about her life during the war.The news that Princess Elizabeth will marry brought great joy to England, and when Mr. Hartnell is picked to design and make her wedding dress, Ann and Miriam are chosen to embroider the dress.While everyone is excited about this, they must be cautious- there are newspapers who have a put a bounty out for any information about the dress. (In case you thought that paparazzi are bad today, there were many pre-TMZ organizations back then as well who used lowdown tactics to get information.)When Ann is swept off her feet by a handsome man she meets at a dance, she can hardly believe her luck. He takes her to nice restaurants and makes her feel so very special. Miriam too meets a wonderful man, an editor for a local newspaper. But both women remain on their guard, knowing that people want information on the gown.The Gown is treasure trove for those who love fashion. There are so many wonderful scenes set in Hartnell's, where the ladies work hard to create the gown that the whole world will see.Robson also gives the reader a look at post-WWII London, which still reels from the bombings and losses sustained. I loved reading about Ann and Miriam's quiet evenings at home, listening to the radio and drawing in their sketchbooks, and Miriam's delight at finding a French grocer, where she purchased green olives, prunes, fennel seed and dried orange zest to make her grandmother's chicken dish.When Milly sends Ann a huge care package from Canada, the ladies are overwhelmed with her generosity:"There were tins of corned beef, salmon, evaporated milk, and peaches in syrup. Dried apricots and raisins. A big jar of strawberry jam. Packets of powdered milk, cocoa, tea, sugar and rice. Yards of heavy woolen suiting, finely woven tartan, and bolts of silky printed rayon, one of pale blue and the other a smoky purple, all with thread and buttons to match."Heather eventually gets some answers about her grandmother's life before she moved to Canada and why she hid her involvement in creating Princess Elizabeth's gown (which you see on the cover of the book).I enjoyed reading The Gown, for the setting and the story of female friendship between Ann and Miriam. I read it in just two days, completely absorbed in the story, and I highly recommend it for anyone who likes books set in WWII.
  • (4/5)
    Loosely based historical novel of 1947 London and the making of the wedding gown of Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth to the Duke of Edinburgh. It was hard to remember that it wasn't totally fact based; however, Robson conducted enough research to make it feel so. It's also a book about the women of that era, after the war, and how they were not cowed by the adversities they faced. Highly recommend "The Gown".
  • (5/5)
    If you like books about strong female friendships and/or British royalty (especially an interest in the wedding gowns worn by Diana, Kate, and Meghan) this is the book for you.It is 1947 and Princess Elizabeth is to marry Prince Philip. Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin are embroiderers for Norman Hartnell, designer for the royal family. Ann is alone after her brother is killed in the war and her sister-in-law moves to Canada. Ann becomes friends with Miriam, the mysterious new French girl at work and invites her to be her roommate. Miriam Dassin eventually reveals that she is Jewish and was imprisoned at Ravensbruck.Toronto, 2016 – Heather Mackenzie is saddened over the death of her grandmother “Nan”. While going through her grandmother’s effects a box marked “To Heather” is found. Inside are three lovely embroidered pieces and a photo of some women gathered around a sewing frame. Heather realizes that neither she nor her mother know anything about Nan’s life before she came to Canada. They uncover a few more photos that reveal that Nan had apparently been friends with the well-known embroiderer Miriam Dassin. Thus begins Heather’s quest to learn about Nan and her secretive past.I thoroughly loved this book. The characters emerged from the written page and came to life as I read. While being eager to get to each new chapter I also was compelled to set aside the book to look up elements from the story – close up photos of the actual wedding gown, other dresses designed by Norman Hartnell, the Chulily sculpture mentioned in the book. I could envision myself there in Hartnell’s workroom with the drawings and sketches pinned to the walls and fabric everywhere. The book has romance, it has villainy and glamour, but above all it has an amazing bond between two women. The premise of the book is well stated in a paraphrase from Heather: The story is about the gown and what it was like to create a wedding gown for a princess – and how it felt to receive no acknowledgement of their work.This book filled me with a warmth and a sense of completion – a feeling of “this is how it should be”. There is so much more I would love to write about this book but I don’t want to give away too much of a story that you just must read for yourself.
  • (5/5)
    Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “The Gown” by Jennifer RobsonKudos 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.
  • (4/5)
    This wonderful new book by Jennifer Robson is a dual time line historical fiction novel about the wedding gown worn by Princess Elizabeth in 1947. The book is about so much more than the wedding gown - it's about the friendship between two women who helped to make the dress and how their friendship helped them both survive. The first time period in the novel is 1947 in London. The war is over but there are still shortages of food and coal. Ann loves her job as an embroiderer at a fashion house and when a new woman arrives from France, Ann and Miriam become friends and share a house. Despite their friendship, Miriam is not able to share what happened to her in France during the war. Ann and Miriam are both chosen to embroider the wedding gown which was a great honor in their dreary lives. The wedding was very exciting for the British - it represented Britain coming out of the bad years of the war.The second time period is modern day in Canada, when Heather's beloved grandmother dies and leaves her some embroidered flowers. Heather knows nothing of her grandmother's life in England so goes on a search to find out more about her grandmother's early years. As she learns more about her grandmother and her work on the royal wedding dress, she is drawn to an artist who knew her grandmother and shares past history with her.This wonderfully researched novel was very interesting on several levels. I had never given much thought to the amount of work that would go into a gown like this and I found it very interesting to learn about. Along with that was the wonderful friendship between Ann and Miriam that lasted throughout the years and was so crucial to the survival of both of them.Thanks to Edelweiss for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
  • (5/5)
    Really great story. I was sad to come to the end. The author is excellent at character development. I want to listen to her other books.
  • (5/5)
    This book was amazing. Love, love, loved it! Just wonderful.
  • (5/5)
    Jennifer Robson's books are a refreshing and enlightening glimpse of the past, and SO well-written! I've enjoyed ALL of her books immensely!!
  • (4/5)
    A good story. Very poignant. Parts of it are very moving, at other times it was a little slow moving for me. I enjoyed listening to the narrator. I liked her voice and I thought she did quite a good job with the various accents.
  • (5/5)
    For me, the subject was unique. Hearing it read with accents and feeling made envisioning the characters and background so much more real. Now I really need to do some research!
  • (4/5)
    Digital audiobook narrated by Marissa Cailin3.5*** The subtitle is all the synopsis anyone needs: A Novel of the Royal Wedding. Okay, maybe a bit more … not Charles & Diana; not William and Kate; not Harry and Meghan. No, this royal wedding is that of Elizabeth and PhillipAs has become almost de rigueur for historical fiction these days, Robson uses a dual timeline. Heather Mackenzie is in Toronto Canada in 2016 and is intrigued by the scrap of fabric with exquisitely detailed hand-embroidered flowers that she’s inherited from her grandmother. Her grandmother never talked about her early years in England. Turns out she was one of the crew of embroiderers tasked with decorating Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. And the secrecy surrounding the design and work was every bit as intense as any modern-day royal wedding.I really enjoyed the details of post-war London. Explanations of rationing and continued deprivations were handled seamlessly. I especially liked the friendship between Ann Hughes, the scrappy Brit, and Miriam Dessin, the French immigrant, and how they helped and supported one another. Robson even manages to include a bit about how some Jews were able to escape the Nazis. I’m over this dual-timeline fad … just tell the story, PLEASE … which is why I give it three stars. Still, it captured and held my attention throughout. I look forward to my F2F book club discussion (when social distancing is over).Marissa Cailin does a marvelous job narrating the audiobook. She has many characters to handle and was able to give them sufficiently distinct voices so that I was never confused.
  • (4/5)
    Historical Fiction, a genre where we have a view into the lives of people that may have not been memorialized or written about. Ms. Robson does a wonderful job of bringing us into the very real place of the women who created the wedding gown for Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth.Heather's journey to understand and unravel her grandmother's story is fairy tale, yet I was along for the ride. For such a level-headed, down to earth family, I did have some pause with the fact that she (and her mother) had no knowledge of their grandfather...or the story that brought her to Canada.Family secrets? I guess.It is far more than a story of the wedding gown, but I wanted to see the embroidery, the streets of London and the countryside... were so vivid. I wanted to see them myself.Miriam and Ann.... even as I write this... you wish that if they were real... and their stories were as told, that they are the heroines that found a way to be happy, productive and remembered the kindnesses of others. It was a wonderful read. Enjoy it.
  • (4/5)
    Excellent book. I recommend it.
  • (3/5)
    I enjoyed the beautiful story about friendship, and the parts about making the wedding dress were really interesting. I didn't like that one of the character's entire story line seemed to be centered on proving the veracity of a cruel comment her mother had once made. I appreciated the author's note at the end, and the chicken dinner recipe was a nice touch. I look forward to trying it.
  • (5/5)
    The Gown is ostensibly about Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown – and yes, the book does spend some fair amount of time in the workroom of Norman Hartnell but this is really the story of two of the girls who worked on the dress. In the period after WWII England was still suffering from the aftereffects. Everything is rationed and it’s one of the coldest winters London has seen with little coal to be had for heat. The joy of a Royal Wedding is giving the country something to celebrate.Ann is a senior embroiderer working for Mr. Hartnell. She loves her work adorning the dresses for the royal ladies and other wealthy clients. Miriam is a young woman from France who is escaping the horrors of the war and the loss of her family to the Nazis. She uses her determination and skills to land a job at Hartnell’s and soon becomes friends with Ann. The two of them are soon living together and find themselves selected to work on the princess’s wedding dress.Soon after the royal wedding Ann leaves England for Canada and Miriam goes on to become a famous artist. Ann never speaks of her time at Hartnell’s with her family and none of them know of her history. It’s only when a box with her granddaughter Heather’s name on it is found after her death that the questions start being asked about Ann’s life before she came to Canada. Heather decides to go to England to find some answers.I cannot write enough about how much I enjoyed this book. Usually when I read a dual timeline story I prefer one time’s tale to the other’s but in The Gown’s case I loved both. The bulk of the story was spent in the past with Ann and Miriam as is to be expected but Heather’s part of the story is quite interesting as well.I was pulled into the story from the very beginning and I read the book in one day. It was hard to put it down and the only reason I did was to cook dinner. The portion that takes place in the present is perhaps one third of the book but it’s a vital part of the book and it pulls everything together. Given the premise, the heart of the story lies in the portion and Ms. Robson brought post WWII London alive in all of it’s gritty glory. She also develops her characters slowly and deftly so that as a reader you become invested in their lives.Her descriptions of the Hartnell workshop were fascinating. I felt like I was there with the young women as they went to work every morning and lived their excitement when they learned they would be making a wedding dress for the Princess Elizabeth. In a world that is grey, crumbling and bitter cold the joy of a wedding is contagious.The book is more than just the making of this iconic wedding dress, it is also the story of Ann and Miriam; of their friendship and of the relationships that move them into the future. Their friendship is a strong one and the women’s separate tales also make for fascinating reading. Miriam has been through so much as a Jewish woman in France; her family has disappeared and she has survivor’s guilt. Ann has lost family in the war and life is just hard for everyone in its aftermath.Ms. Robson brings post war London alive in vivid detail so that I felt the bitter cold and could taste the weak tea. The stories were captivating in both eras. It’s a book than any history buff or fan of Queen Elizabeth II will love.