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The Gown
Cover of The Gown
The Gown
A Novel of the Royal Wedding
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One of December's most anticipated reads from InStyle, HelloGiggles, Hypable, Bookbub, and Bookriot!

One of Real Simple's Best Historical Fiction novels of 2018!

"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.

One of December's most anticipated reads from InStyle, HelloGiggles, Hypable, Bookbub, and Bookriot!

One of Real Simple's Best Historical Fiction novels of 2018!

"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.

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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.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2018

    Ann Hughes has worked for Normand Hartnell, famed dressmaker for the queen and royal family, since she was 14. After her roommate immigrates to Canada, Ann, having survived the Blitz, her brother's death, and a horrible winter, is now faced with losing her home. Luckily, Miriam Dassin, a fellow embroiderer and recent refugee from France, is looking for better lodgings. The new roommates form a friendship and Ann learns the horrible story about what happened to Miriam and her family during the war. Seventy years later, Ann has recently died and her heartbroken granddaughter Heather is cleaning out Ann's possessions. She finds a box filled with intricate embroidered fabrics. Heather knew her grandmother was a crocheter and knitter, but after a little sleuthing, she discovers that Ann worked on then Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress. VERDICT Alternating time lines between 1947 Britain and 2016 Canada, Robson (Goodnight from London) vividly brings to life these three women's struggles. Historical details about fabric, embroidery, and the royal family are well incorporated into their stories, with light romance rounding out this charming work of historical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 7/30/18.]--Lynnanne Pearson, Skokie P.L., IL

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 8, 2018
    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 émigré 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 Milly, making for a winning, heartwarming tale.

  • Kirkus

    October 15, 2018
    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(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from November 15, 2018
    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 �migr� 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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

  • Washington Post "For fans of "The Crown," looking for history served up as intimate drama, and those seeking another angle on royal lives, "The Gown" seems likely to dazzle and delight.
  • Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network "Jennifer Robson embroiders life, friendship, and hope into the somber gray world of post-war London... The Gown is marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war."
  • Women’s Day "...one of the most fun books you'll read this year."
  • Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale "In The Gown, Jennifer Robson illuminates with her signature meticulous historical detail and sure voice the story behind Queen Elizabeth's wedding dress... an unforgettable story of friendship, hardship and hope. Robson has managed to craft a story that is personal and universal, timely and timeless. The Gown soars!"
  • Lauren Willig, author of The English Wife "A moving story about the power of female friendship and renewal in the face of adversity. Like the good luck sprig of heather hidden amid the embroidery on Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress, this story promises secrets and lives that bloom in unlikely ways. Perfect for fans of The Crown!"
  • Leslie Carroll, author of American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry "Embroidering a magical moment in royal history, Robson tells a heartrending story of friendship, loss, love, and redemption."
  • Brenda Janowitz, author of The Dinner Party "A story of friendship, family bonds, and courage, The Gown is the ideal read for fans of historical fiction and royal watchers alike!"
  • Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of The Edge of Lost and Sold on a Monday "Told through the eyes of three compelling women, The Gown is a heartwarming story of friendship, resilience, and the power of heirlooms to connect people through generations, sometimes in the most unexpected ways."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) Jennifer Robson delivers a satisfying multigenerational epic linked by the intricate embroidery used on Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown. 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 Milly, making for a winning, heartwarming tale.
  • Booklist (starred review) "Robson 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."
  • Library Journal "Robson vividly brings to life these three women's struggles. Historical details about fabric, embroidery, and the royal family are well incorporated into their stories, with light romance rounding out this charming work of historical fiction."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Robson's novel shifts deftly between... Toronto to London in 2016... giving meticulous attention to the historical detail of post–World War II London. A fascinating glimpse into the world of design, the healing power of art, and the importance of women's friendships."
  • Chanel Cleeton, author of Next Year in Havana "A celebration of strength, resilience, and friendship, The Gown transports readers as Robson offers a richly detailed and meticulously researched glimpse of daily life in post-war Britain. An enchanting must-read for historical fiction fans!"
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A Novel of the Royal Wedding
Jennifer Robson
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