Book Review-The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding

I’ve read a lot about World War 2, and this is such a fresh take on Britain just before Queen Elizabeth gets married. It’s not so much about the Royal Wedding despite the title. The story has three narrators, Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin are embroiderers who worked on The Dress themselves. Heather Mackenzie is Ann’s granddaughter, and her story was told in 2016.

The chapters alternate and as the story unfurled in 1947, you get an excellent sense of post-war life in London. People are trying to get back to some kind of new post-war normal, and it is so difficult because they are all damaged from living through the various atrocities. Meanwhile, in 2016, Heather’s grandma has passed away leaving Heather with a box of embroidered roses that are an exact match to those on Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress.

I enjoyed Heather’s storyline, but Ann and Miriam’s stories were what kept me reading. Life just after World War 2 ended (in my spoiled eyes) still seems pretty harsh. It’s cold, you can’t really afford just to go buy a warmer coat, food is still rationed, and you have to be creative not to starve. Add in that people still had to commute and get to work on time all the while having various degrees of PTSD? Sigh. The writing is so good you feel it all.

Obviously, the Holocaust is mentioned, and there is sexual violence, seems too weird to say, but it is balanced a bit by the 2016 Rom Com aspects. You won’t feel depressed after reading this, and that is the mark of excellent historical fiction writing.

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