Monday, February 10, 2020

Review: The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal WeddingThe Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars rounded up

Ann and Miriam are two women, just trying to do the best they can, roommates and coworkers at famous designer Hartnell's embroidery studio in 1947. As a designer to the Queen, Princess Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family, Hartnell's designs grace the pages of magazines, newspapers, and newsreels of the time. The most famous of his designs is arguably the now Queen Elizabeth's wedding dress:

Image result for hartnell designer

Ann and Miriam's stories are woven together with Heather, Ann's granddaughter after she has passed away. When Heather finds the box with embroideries and some pictures, she sets out to learn more about her beloved grandmother in 2016. What she uncovers about her grandmother shocks her, and has her questioning whether or not she truly knew her.

I finished this book up the day of the Oscar Award show (Academy Awards) and it actually ended up being quite timely. Looking at all the beautiful dresses chosen by the celebrities, it is interesting that we acknowledge the famous designers who made the dresses, but we often times never hear about the people who actually sewed the dresses and put the finishing details such as the gems or sequins. Robson brings this situation to life as we experience what it was like to make Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress in 1947. I quite enjoyed this book and especially loved reading about the work these women mastered to create an iconic wedding dress.

The only criticism I have for this book is at times I struggled to stay invested in some of Ann's and Miriam's storylines as it felt stoic, lacking in emotions. It could be the time period, or it could be just the points in the story, but I did not feel as invested at times as much as I wanted. One content concern I feel I should also mention is with Miriam, there is discussion of the Holocaust, including some time at the concentration camp. If this is something you do not like to read, please know while it is pivotal to who Miriam is, it is not discussed in detail but a few short times. Overall, I really appreciated and enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone that likes multiple point of views and multiple timelines woven together, even if you are not an anglophile.

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