Compelling and informative ... Robson is skilled at creating drama; the braided narrative shifts among three protagonists ... An Oxford-trained historian, Robson has a fine eye for detail ... At its best, the novel is a gripping portrait of the aftermath of a war too often romanticized in American fiction and film; the privations of global conflict and its lingering weight — in bombed-out streets, in coupons for necessities — make vivid both the hardship and unequal distribution of suffering. The comfortable remain comfortable even in uncomfortable times ... Occasionally plot twists come out of nowhere (serendipitous meetings, sudden villainy) ... stumbles in its glancing treatment of the Holocaust, which risks becoming narrative window-dressing ... For all that, Robson succeeds in creating a riveting drama of female friendship, of lives fully lived despite unbearable loss, and of the steadfast effort required to bring forth beauty after surviving war.
Robson deftly weaves issues of class, trauma, romance, and female friendship with satisfying details of Ann and Miriam’s craft. This unique take on the royal wedding will be an easy sell to fans of Netflix’s The Crown and a sure bet for readers of women-centered historical fiction by Kate Morton, Kate Quinn, or Susanna Kearsley.
The book's strongest element is its negotiation of the past slipping away from the present ... a fittingly delicate piece of work, capturing with quiet assurance the London of a long-gone era and finding a fascinating story in the fold of one single dress. Surely comparatively few of Robson's readers will remember this particular royal wedding, but The Gown makes a tiny part of it come to life again.