cover image The Gown

The Gown

Jennifer Robson. Morrow, $26.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-288427-5

Robson (Moonlight over Paris) delivers a satisfying multigenerational epic linked by the intricate embroidery used on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. In 1947 London, Ann Hughes works as an embroiderer at Hartnell, an exclusive clothing designer whose designs have been worn by the royals. Ann lost her brother during the Blitz and now lives with her widowed sister-in-law Milly. When French émigré Miriam Dassin starts working as an embroiderer at Hartnell, she and Ann become friends, and she moves in with Ann after Milly leaves England to live in Canada with her brothers. After Hartnell is chosen as the designer for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress, Ann and Miriam work on the dress’s embroidery. The story jumps forward to 2016 Canada when journalist Heather Mackenzie’s grandmother dies and leaves her a box with beautifully embroidered fabric. She had disclosed little of her life in England before emigrating to Canada, and Heather travels to London to uncover the secrets of her grandmother’s life in London and her friendship with Miriam, now a celebrated artist. Robson’s meticulous attention to historical details—notably the intricacies of the embroidery work—is a wonderful complement to the memorable stories of Ann and Miriam, making for a winning, heartwarming tale. (Dec.) Correction: this review originally misnamed a character.