Gown : A Novel of the Royal Wedding
by Robson, Jennifer

"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 in spite of their nation's recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers in the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their bond, along with 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, 2011: 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, so similar to the exquisite motifs that embellished the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding more than sixty years before? And what was her Nan's connection to the celebrated textile artist Miriam Dassin? The Gown 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. Its heroines, whose points of view alternate and intersect throughout its pages, are connected by threads of loss and love, suffering and survival, regret and redemption"-

*Starred Review* The announcement of Princess Elizabeth's wedding is a balm to the austerity of postwar London. It is even more to Ann Hughes, an embroiderer at the fashion house of Norman Hartnell, who is charged with the delicate embellishment of the gown. Working alongside her is Miriam Dassin, a recent French émigré who doesn't speak much about her past. In 2016 Canada, Heather mourns the death of her Nan, who similarly never spoke about her life before moving to Toronto. Nan left Heather a sample of beautifully embroidered fabric, and Heather heads to London to uncover its meaning. Ann's, Miriam's, and Heather's narratives mingle in an orderly but artful fashion, piecing together the full story of how the samples-and Nan-ended up in Canada. Robson (Goodnight from London?, 2017) deftly weaves issues of class, trauma, romance, and female friendship with satisfying details of Ann and Miriam's craft. This unique take on the royal wedding will be an easy sell to fans of Netflix's The Crown and a sure bet for readers of women-centered historical fiction by Kate Morton, Kate Quinn, or Susanna Kearsley. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Distraught over her grandmother's death, Heather Mackenzie discovers that her beloved Nan—a woman who never sewed a stitch in her life—has left her a peculiar gift: a box of exquisitely embroidered, pearl-encrusted flowers. In her quest to discover her grandmother's secrets, Heather will find much more than she had bargained for. Robson's (Goodnight from London, 2017) novel shifts deftly between Heather's world, as she travels from Toronto to London in 2016, and Nan's world, giving meticulous attention to the historical detail of post-World War II London. With everything from sugar and tea to heat and light strictly rationed, Ann Hughes, Heather's grandmother, has done her best to make her drab house happy, but it's tough going. A talented embroiderer and dressmaker to the royal family, Ann's work for Norman Hartnell, the premier dressmaker in England, offers an elegant respite from grim reality. Luckily, Miriam Dassin has decided to immigrate to London from Paris , where she, too, has worked as a superb embroiderer at the house of Christian Dior. Although haunted by her memories of Nazi persecution and imprisonment at Ravensbrück, Miriam secures a job at Hartnell House, befriends Ann, and moves into her house. As Princess Elizabeth and Lt. Mountbatten's nuptials approach, the women of Hartnell House cut, stitch, and embellish her gorgeous wedding gown. Fortune seems to finally smile on the women, as Ann meets the dashing Jeremy Brackett-Milne and Miriam captures the eye of journalist Walter Kaczmarek. Yet they must avoid the snares of spies eager to steal and publish the designer's patterns before the wedding. Untangling the threads of these remarkable women's lives, Heather, too, just may find love. A fascinating glimpse into the world of design, the healing power of art, and the importance of women's friendships. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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