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The Gown

A Novel of the Royal Wedding
Narrated by: Marisa Calin
Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

From the internationally best-selling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the 20th 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 70 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 listeners to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

©2018 Jennifer Robson (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Kristyn
  • 08-01-19

Just adored it

I really did love this book and I think it’s a wonderful story. The emotion it evoked in me, at times, was so powerful it brought me to tears or raised goosebumps on my skin. I love historical fiction (specifically the English monarchy and the holocaust) so this was a perfect pick for me. The story does come full circle so nicely without being predictable which is something I truly value in a novel these days.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen Jefferson
  • 25-03-19

Fun and informative

Enjoyed after the introduction of characters. It was slow at the beginning then I found myself anxious to keep reading. The one star I took away from performance was all the English men seemed to speak with German accents instead of English. I wish on audio books that men would read the male scripts. It does seem that in audio books that unless the male character is America’s that they all sound alike no matter what their nationality.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah C. Bell
  • 07-03-19

Wonderful story with great historical detail

The characters came alive for me particularly because my mother survived the Blitz in London. Narration was superb.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Toni
  • 28-03-19

HRH has only a bit part!

I loved this story. The characters are so clear and love able. I loved the narration, accents included. I was expecting a more non fiction tale of the production of the Queen’s wedding gown starring all the royal family. But, surprisingly, and happily it was a sweet tale of the lives of two women that worked on the historical dress. Jennifer Robson is now a new favorite; I look forward to reading more of her work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • donnabean
  • 18-02-19

not my usual listen but really enjoyed it

The first part of the story seemed a little melodramatic to me but a few chapters in I was hooked. The narrator struck a good balance between neutrality and emotion and did accents well. I loved how the story eventually made use of details mentioned earlier. If you are interested in any kind of sewing (like I am) you would appreciate the lovely details about embroidery. I would've liked Anne and Miriam to show more personality to make them more dimensional, yet still found myself affected by them. The ending is super satisfying and I'm glad I invested time in this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bonny
  • 10-02-19

Light, predictable, and stereotypical

The Gown started off as interesting fiction, but turned out to be a predictable story with stereotypical characters. Ann Hughes is the plucky British embroiderer, fellow embroiderer Miriam Dassin, the French woman who survived the Holocaust and becomes Ann's friend, and Ann's granddaughter, Heather populate this novel about Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress. I enjoyed the many details about embroidery and the embroiderers who worked at Hartnells, along with facts about rationing, shortages, and life in postwar London. Less enjoyable were plot twists that arose seemingly from nowhere, the way the Holocaust was used as a perfunctory aside only to further Miriam's part in the book, three lukewarm romances, one of which turns out appallingly and unbelievably, and Heather's general cluelessness about most things. It's a light read where everything falls happily into place, but not much more than that for me.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • T. Highlen
  • 08-02-19

A delight to listen to

I am a finicky listener but I would be open to getting additional stories by this author and also those by the narrator.

I was not disappointed and was sad when it ended. Great characters and wonderful details to the stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary
  • 02-02-19

Loved the Gown

I thought the book was well done. I could actually picture the embroidery in my mind. Great detail.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Melanie Anderson
  • 27-01-19

I loved this book!

This is one of the best books I’ve ever listened to. I loved the narrator, she made the characters come to life, I didn’t want the sweet story to end.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Audra
  • 06-12-19

Beautifully written tale of friendship

It’s not just another WWII book. It really is about an unexpected friendship in post war London. The wedding gown is secondary. Thoroughly enjoyed it.