Few people had touched Heather’s life as much as her grandmother, Nan, so it was not surprising that her heart was wrenched when Nan died and Heather did not arrive in time to see her before she did. They had connected on so many levels and she berated herself for not making time to get to see her as often as she would have hoped.
To add to her misery, suddenly her job as a journalist came to an abrupt, unexpected end and she had no clear direction of what to do. When her mother said she had discovered a box of her grandmother’s that said “For Heather” on it she couldn’t have been more surprised or curious about what it contained.
When she picked up the box from her mother and opened it, she became even more curious. Layers of tissue paper encased several delicate and ornate embroideries that Heather had never seen. She had not known her grandmother did anything like this despite having a little knitting shop she had run for years. It also reminded her that for all she knew of her grandmother, there were many things she did not.
With no job and a mystery to solve about her Nan, Heather decided to travel to England using her love of history and journalistic research skills to see if she could discover the story of the mysterious embroidery samples apparently created by her grandmother. She hoped that might also give her information about her grandfather whom she never knew. He had not been spoken of by her grandmother after emigrating to Canada to be with her deceased brother’s widow. Everyone assumed he had died in England when Nan was pregnant with Heather’s mother
That adventure unfolds page by page between 2016 in Canada and 1947 in post-war England through the gifted writing of Jennifer Robson in The Gown, the historical novel of the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
This fascinating story will introduce you to Ann, Heather’s grandmother, living out her life following the death of her brother during the Blitz of Britain by working as an apprentice embroiderer for the William Hartnell Design studio famed for their designs favored by the Queen and her family. Working there will bring a woman named Miriam onto the scene whose life has been torn apart in France as her Jewish family was sent for their destruction to the east and she sought to survive working for Christian Dior after being sent to Ravensbruck and the horrors of that place. With the war at an end, Miriam believes she must leave France rather than risk encountering any of those who had harmed her, and it will be Ann who offers friendship when she arrives at Hartnell’s.
As the story of hardship in post war England unfolds the added dimension of the lives of these women becomes their role as the key embroiderers tasked with the finest detail work for the wedding gown of Princess Elizabeth. Creation of the gown was one of top-secret designation, but that too adds to the depth of the writing of this novel.
What will Heather discover of her grandmother and who will fill in the blanks about the woman she had loved but discovers she knew so little about?
If you enjoy a good historical novel along with other reading, you won’t want to miss this one that seems so in tune with the recent death of Queen Elizabeth.