So if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know I’m a big fan of historic fiction. I just love it, it makes me feel all tingly with excitement (sad I know , but there you have it 😉 ). However what many of you might not know (until now) is that I’m a big fan of a royal wedding. Yes, I love and I mean REALLY LOVE a good royal wedding.
So you can imagine my excitement when the chance came my way to read an advanced copy of The Gown, a historical novel focused around the Queen’s wedding dress and the women who made it in 1947. Especially as my friend Holly and I went to the Fashioning a Reign exhibition at Buckingham Palace, which featured the legendary and very beautiful wedding dress. The exhibition marked the Queen’s 90th birthday and showcased many of her dresses, from childhood to present day. When Holly and I saw her wedding dress with our own eyes, we were in awe!
Believe me, The Gown is a novel that doesn’t disappoint either. With a captivating plot and characters I had to Google a few times as they felt so real to me, I genuinely wondered if they were real people, The Gown had me hooked. I finished this book late last night, and I was so moved by the tender story that the tears were streaming down my face.
The Gown is juxtaposed between post-war Britain when the country was on its knees burdened by severe shortages and rationing, and 2016, the year of the Fashioning a Reign exhibition. It centres around three women; Ann and Miriam, embroiderers working at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell in 1947. Both Ann and Miriam faced unthinkable tragedy during World War 2, but it is their friendship and the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress that will change their lives for ever. Heather is Ann’s Canadian granddaughter who comes to London and unravels a family mystery involving the creation of the wedding dress that her grandmother kept hidden – until now.
This is a compelling, tender read and the historic detail is truly fascinating. I was not suprised that Jennifer Robson, the author describes herself as a ‘lifelong history nerd’. Her scattering of historical facts throughout the novel had me hooked; things such as only being able to buy olive oil from the chemist’s in the 1940s as it was used to treat earache. Also I genuinely thought that the world’s obsession about what the women in the Royal family wear was a fairly modern thing in today’s celebrity culture, but no, some people were just as bad and as ruthless in 1947.
Thank you Jennifer Robson for The Gown; it is beautiful, absorbing read that I couldn’t put down. Thank you also to Phoebe Swinburn from Headline Publicity for kindly arranging my advance copy. I loved it.
The Gown was published today (21 February 2019), so go out and grab your copy of this beautiful and insightful read. If you’re a fan of the royals and historic fiction, I’m sure you’ll love this book.