Book Review - The Gown by Jennifer Robson
I lost track of the number of people who saw this book, thought of me, and then recommended I read it. Those that come to mind are two publicists and my bookstore owner friend, Holland from the Novel Neighbor. Holland is so good at picking out books for me, I’m eternally grateful! And bookstore owners hear about books long before people like me so I often get the insider’s scoop from her! Other people who get early access to books (and I mean super early…even before I receive an ARC or an email from publicists) are authors. I follow quite a few authors on Facebook and Instagram and they get books often 6-8 months before they are scheduled to be published. As a comparison, I usually get books a month or two before they are published. So if you’re wondering for what books to be on the lookout for, I recommend you talk to your local bookstore owner and follow your favorite authors on social media.
Okay, back to The Gown by Jennifer Robson. This novel is about the women who made Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown. So now you know why so many people thought of me! I wrote my dissertation on WWII war brides and all of my research has focused on historic wedding apparel. So obviously I was anxious to get started on this book! Plus, once I heard about this book I started following Jennifer Robson on social media and she posts quite a bit about the research she did for this book including interviewing one of the actual women who worked for Hartnell and helped make Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown and a current embroiderer who helped with the technical details of embroidering.
Although I had hoped that this story was based on one of the actual women who worked on Queen Elizabeth’s gown (it is not), I still really enjoyed the story that Jennifer created around the making of this gown. I think it was rooted enough in actual historic events such as the hype that swirled around this wedding and the important role it played in building morale after a brutal war. I was less interested in the personal lives of the characters, but I think that is the part that anyone who isn’t an academic studying historic dress will find is the thread that keeps the reader interested and the story flowing. Sometimes it is difficult for me to separate my researcher self with my reader self. Since this subject is so closely aligned with the subject I research, I found myself often switching to researcher mode and wanting the facts and details. But I think this book was a good balance between historic and fiction - I can’t wait to hear what all of you think!
I took The Gown with me to Cabo san Lucas in Mexico over Thanksgiving break. These photos were taken at Sirena del Mar, a Welk Resort where my family and I always stay when we travel to Cabo. We’ve try to go once a year at different times. The first year we went in May, the second year we went over Christmas, and this year we went over Thanksgiving. Next year we will be there for New Year’s Eve! Check out my Literary Travel Guide for more information about Cabo san Lucas.