If you haven’t watched the mega-hit TV series The Crown with its powerful acting, lavish production designs and sumptuous costumes – you’re in for a royal treat. Millions of binge-watching fans love this inside look at Queen Elizabeth’s life along with the personal intrigues, romances, and political rivalries of the times. Currently, Caledon Public Library has the first two seasons of The Crown on DVD, and is sure to continue offering more of the highly anticipated 6 season show. A must-see.
But what happens after you’ve watched both seasons – and it’s a waiting game until the next season of The Crown comes out? Try Jennifer Robson’s 2018 historical fiction bestseller The Gown. This novel opens in war-exhausted London 1947, a city straining from extreme food shortages, ration cards and bombed-out streets. The announcement of the royal wedding between Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten becomes a huge boost to the country’s morale, and princess’s wedding gown instantly becomes the subject of intense speculation and intrigue.
The story of The Gown story spans over 70 years, two time periods and tells the stories of three women: Ann Hughes, a 25-year-old seamstress in English designer Norman Hartnell’s London workroom; Miriam Dassin, a French embroiderer and Holocaust survivor; and Ann’s Canadian granddaughter, Heather. The novel largely follows the friendship and travails of Ann and Miriam in war-torn London in the months leading to the Royal Wedding. Yet it’s through Heather in 2016, who is bequeathed a strange box of embroidered flowers from her grandmother – that the mystery and fate of the two friends is revealed. As Heather sets out to uncover the meaning of the inherited flowers, she stumbles on the answers to her grandmother’s secret past.
Along with romance, intrigue and drama, The Gown paints a realistic portrait of these dedicated female workers, and the growing fervor to complete the gown as the wedding of the century looms ever closer. It also expertly details the painstaking intricacies required to embellish and embroider this stunning dress. But don’t be fooled by the book cover depicting Princess Elizabeth as she walks the aisle in her dress trailing its 15-ft train of tulle. While the Princess and royal family are featured– this is a story of the working women, the friendships and the hardships behind the seams.