Distraught over her grandmother’s death, Heather Mackenzie discovers that her beloved Nan—a woman who never sewed a stitch in her life—has left her a peculiar gift: a box of exquisitely embroidered, pearl-encrusted flowers. In her quest to discover her grandmother’s secrets, Heather will find much more than she had bargained for.
Robson’s (Goodnight from London, 2017) novel shifts deftly between Heather’s world, as she travels from Toronto to London in 2016, and Nan’s world, giving meticulous attention to the historical detail of post–World War II London. With everything from sugar and tea to heat and light strictly rationed, Ann Hughes, Heather’s grandmother, has done her best to make her drab house happy, but it's tough going. A talented embroiderer and dressmaker to the royal family, Ann’s work for Norman Hartnell, the premier dressmaker in England, offers an elegant respite from grim reality. Luckily, Miriam Dassin has decided to immigrate to London from Paris, where she, too, has worked as a superb embroiderer at the house of Christian Dior. Although haunted by her memories of Nazi persecution and imprisonment at Ravensbrück, Miriam secures a job at Hartnell House, befriends Ann, and moves into her house. As Princess Elizabeth and Lt. Mountbatten’s nuptials approach, the women of Hartnell House cut, stitch, and embellish her gorgeous wedding gown. Fortune seems to finally smile on the women, as Ann meets the dashing Jeremy Brackett-Milne and Miriam captures the eye of journalist Walter Kaczmarek. Yet they must avoid the snares of spies eager to steal and publish the designer’s patterns before the wedding. Untangling the threads of these remarkable women’s lives, Heather, too, just may find love.
A fascinating glimpse into the world of design, the healing power of art, and the importance of women’s friendships.