Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Blog Tour & Review: The Gown by Jennifer Robson


Title: The Gown
Author: Jennifer Robson
Published: December 2018, William Morrow
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Summary: 
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.



My thoughts: As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it and knowing that it was by Jennifer Robson, I knew it was going to be a book I would enjoy...and I was right on both accounts! Little did I know it would not quite be the book I at first expected it to be.

I am a huge fan of all things royal - I absolutely love The Crown and Victoria and have watched all the shows on PBS and other minor channels about Queen Elizabeth and her reign, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to read this book. And I loved that while part of the book focuses on the making of Queen Elizabeth's gown, the real story here is on the friendships that were fostered and how these women found their place in such trying times. 

The book is so rich in detail that it feels as if you are taken back in time to the 1940s when Ann and Miriam first meet. What I loved is that you really feel the effects that the war has had on their lives. Rationing is still in effect and while there is little in the way of entertainment, London is abuzz with excitement over the engagement of Princess Elizabeth and all eyes are on the dress shop where Ann and Miriam are working on what has been deemed "the gown." I loved that while the royals make cameo appearances, it never really focuses on them, but rather the dressmakers working tirelessly to get this gown ready for the big day, sworn to keeping all details a secret.

The present day story is no less intriguing. Heather, very close with her Nan, is determined to unlock the secrets of her history when presented with a box of her belongings. I felt a close kinship with Heather, having had such a close relationship with my grandmother, and I could appreciate her needing to find those answers. Why did her Nan keep such a big part of herself closed off?

This book really kept me engaged right from the start, and while I loved both parts, I will say I was a bit more enamored with the past than the present, but still really enjoyed the whole book overall. Jennifer Robson really  has a gift for storytelling and I found myself transported back in time. This is such a heartwarming tale of friendship, of hard work and survival and it is so detailed and heavily researched. I have only read a few books by Jennifer Robson, but I think this might be her best book yet and I definitely recommend picking this one up!




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.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   
|   Instagram

 
Purchase Links:   HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #thegown).


 
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2 comments

  1. The cover caught my eye immediately and the blurb looks amazing. I'm glad you enjoyed it because I'd have to read it regardless just based on those two things so the fact that it lived up to expectations has me really looking forward to reading it!

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