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.