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

Authour:
Jennifer Robson
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
December 31st 2018
Publisher:
William Morrow Paperbacks
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Jennifer Robson has come a long way since her début novel, Somewhere in France. In her latest novel, The Gown she takes her readers to two different time periods and settings. In 1946-1947 London, England we meet Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin  who both work as embroiderers at Hartnell’s, a designer who has designed clothing worn by the royals and who will go on to work on the wedding dress of Elizabeth II. Both women have tragic pasts and end up developing a close friendship over a short period. The third and last POV is that of a young woman named Heather living in Toronto in 2016. The granddaughter of Ann Hughes, Heather is unaware of her grandmother’s life before she came to Canada. However, upon her grandmother’s death Heather find herself in possession of a box with beautifully embroidered fabric which leads her back to England to uncover her grandmother’s past life.

I was initially drawn to this book in spite of the fact that it differed from Robson’s earlier books because I was intrigued by the fact that it would be about the people who made the wedding dress of the Queen today. The writing was beautiful and I truly felt like I was right there, inside the work rooms at Hartnell’s. Robson always take great care to research the setting and characters for her books, and it absolutely shows here. I loved how the women who were front and center in this book were also independent as well. Ann and Miriam’s story had me feeling so many feelings, both had experienced tremendous loss and their strength and resilience was incredibly inspiring. Seeing both women bond over their losses and support each other was truly heartwarming and I loved how their friendship changed both of them for the better. Heather’s story was also interesting and perhaps more relatable to me given her age and the fact that her story takes place in the present day. I enjoyed the subplot with her and Daniel, Miriam’s grandson although I wish we got to see more of how their romance developed.

A heartfelt book, The Gown is a perfect book to cozy up to during the winter holiday. Whether you’re a fan of the royal family, royal weddings and/or historical fiction The Gown is an exquisite look at the often unacknowledged but integral women who work behind the scenes to create their piece of royal history. 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

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Midweek Mini Reviews #5

  

 Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson 

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I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Robson’s first two novels from her The Great War series so I was excited to finally get the opportunity to meet her and get an ARC of her newest book, Goodnight from London which is actually part of a new series set during the 1940s.

Goodnight from London like Robson’s past novels is extremely well researched and you truly get a feel for what it was like for a female war correspondent. Which was an interesting as its amazing just how far Ruby’s male coworkers went in order to protect their pride and bring her down. I loved how the writing and descriptions of all the sights and sounds whisked me away on a London adventure with the heroine as I’ve never been to England before.

If you’re looking for romance there’s not much of it here as its all very slow burn and takes a backseat to Ruby’s professional life. However, there are great friendships, work relationships  and family bonds that are formed and it was lovely to see Ruby finally find a warm, loving and supportive place that she could settle down in and call “home”. I’m definitely looking forward to the next Jennifer Robson book!
Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

What Remains: Object Lessons in Love and Loss by Karen Von Hahn

whatremains

I first came across this title in the House of Anansi catalogue and the synopsis had me curious to learn more. Fortunately, I was able to get an ARC of it at OLA while waiting for their Ian Hamilton signing.

What Remains by Karen Von Hahn is a memoir about a daughter, recalling her larger than life, dramatic mother. It’s also a fascinating look at the writer’s life and upbringing as well as her mother’s life and how each of their personal circumstances made them who they were and are. I thought it was unique for the authour to use objects that were significant to her and/or her late mother as starting points for each of the chapters in the book and as a way to examine the writer’s family history and significant relationships. I also appreciated the fact that unlike most other memoirs I’ve read, this one takes place in Toronto, which allowed me to see what the city and neighbourhoods were once like back in the 1970s and ’80s.

Recommended for those who are all too familiar with having grown up with a (somewhat) maddening and overburdening yet glamorous mother, or those who like those types of memoirs and wanting to get a glimpse at the life of the privileged in Toronto during the 1970s and ’80s.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

 

Book Review | After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson

afterwarAuthour:
Jennifer Robson
Format:
Trade Paperback, 353 pages
Publication date:
January 6th 2015
Publisher:
William Morrow
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“From now on, she resolved, she would try to remember that life could be more than work and study and serious-minded contemplation of society’s failings. She could know joy, and light, and relief from sadness.” (p. 141)

For some reason if truth be told I tend to enjoy historical fiction that has been marketed towards fans of Downton Abbey even though I have no intention of starting that show. Nevertheless, Jennifer Robson’s Great War series is no exception, and though I loved the first book, I was extra eager for her second book After the War since it features Charlotte’s story.

I adored the Lilly, who was the protagonist in Somewhere in France. However, I found Charlotte a much more relatable character for the reason that she an educated woman, and she does not wish to be married just for the reason that it is what women during her time were expected to do. And while I do love romance, I appreciated the fact that we become acquainted with Charlotte as a person outside of her relationships while witnessing her transform into an independent woman and an activist. This makes the romance in the book even more fulfilling since Charlotte and Edward’s relationship is based on their mutual respect of one another. From the start, they both push each other to be the best versions of themselves.

I also loved how this book seamlessly switches between the present i.e. events after the first book and the past to when Edward and Charlotte first met and when she was Lilly’s governess. It was quite sweet to observe the lengths Edward went to ensure his sister, Lilly received a superior education. And I also absolutely adored getting a glimpse at a different type of family dynamic, especially with Charlotte and her parents. It refreshing to observe warm and loving family relationships, especially after witnessing how mostly distant, cold and stern Lilly and Edward’s parents were towards their children (even though it’s probably what was commonplace at that time and for families of their social status). The best example that truly illustrates this point is an incredibly touching scene in the book between Charlotte and her father that definitely made me tear up a bit.

All in all, I loved this book since I got to revisit my favourite characters from the first book and observing how characters such as Robbie and Charlotte bond over their similar situations. And while I found a few things to be resolved rather quickly near the conclusion, and I kind of missed the letters that were commonplace in Somewhere in France I did however enjoy watching the characters interact with each other further in person in this book. Additionally, I enjoyed reading the various column pieces that Charlotte writes on social issues that she feels strongly about.

After the War is probably one of my favourite books that I have read thus far this year, and I would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and those of historical romance. What’s best concerning this book is that you do not need to read Somewhere on France first though I would recommend you read both for a greater reading experience.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.