Open Book with Sally Hepworth

Thrilled to have the legendary and most fabulous Sally Hepworth on the blog today!  I adore her and her books (she has been a past Bookish Beauty gal) and am honored to be celebrating the book birthday of her latest novel, The Mother-In-Law.  Read below about this domestic thriller that is perfect for your spring break as well as Sally’s dream book club (its AMAZE), latest reads and favorite Insta account 🙂

MOTHER IN LAW

via Amazon ~

A twisty, compelling new novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in death…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.

It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

Fractured relationships and deep family secrets grow more compelling with every page in this twisty, captivating new novel from Sally Hepworth.

Praise for Sally Hepworth:

“With jaw-dropping discoveries, and realistic consequences, this novel is not to be missed. Perfect for lovers of Big Little Lies.” ―Library Journal, starred review

“Hepworth deftly keeps the reader turning pages and looking for clues, all the while building multilayered characters and carefully doling out bits of their motivations.” ―Booklist

Sally Hepworth Headshot_highest res_credit Mrs. Smart Photography.jpg

 

What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a book club with?

Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, Reese Witherspoon – can you even imagine this book club?

Current binge series?

I have been bingeing on books! (The Silent Patient, Daisy Jones and the Six, An Anonymous Girl)

Last favorite book?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. And The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer.

What 3 things do you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?

I am a homebody. My dream vacation would be a week at home alone, so no packing required!

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Neither! I read books!

Last person you sent a text message to?

My friend, Ange, who reminded me that it was school photos today (thank goodness as my daughter’s hair looked like a bird’s nest).

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Where the Crawdads Sing.

Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

Yes. My third and seventh grade English teachers were both incredibly encouraging.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

No. I work at the library so I listen to the quiet chatter of people in the aisles, or people asking librarians for recommendations. Best music in the world.

Describe your writing space?

I write at the library, so I have a little desk that faces a window that looks out onto a parking lot. Not especially inspiring, but it stops me from getting distracted.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I tend to choose specific books that I think certain people would like, so it’s different for everyone. Though I will say, I’ve bought Where the Crawdads Sing for several people lately.

Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

Where the Crawdads Sing. And Reese Witherspoon IS making a movie out of it. YAY!

If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?

I’ve Done All The Dumb Things by Paul Kelly

What/Who inspires you?

Women. Especially young women. My daughters inspire me. It is such a wonderful time to be a woman right now, and I’m excited about what the next generation will achieve for feminism.

Bravo reality TV – yes or no?

I’m not sure what this is?

Favorite Instagram account?

Dr. Pimple Popper.

If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be?

The Other Woman.

Current #TBR pile?

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Do yoga, read books, and have as many children as you can afford (from my Mum).

 

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Open Book with Lea Geller

If you are looking for a laugh-out loud novel with a heroine who you will be cheering for, then Trophy Life is it and I am so thrilled to have Lea Geller on the blog as my latest Open Book!  Her dazzling and hilarious debut novel, out now, is really the most perfect accessory to accompany you on #SpringBreak.  Nora Ephron, Gatsby and Springsteen, yup, enough said.  Read below ❤

Geller_TrophyLife_FT

via Amazon ~

A refreshingly honest, laugh-out-loud novel about losing the life you always wanted…and finding the life you were meant to have.

For the last ten years, Agnes Parsons’s biggest challenge has been juggling yoga classes and lunch dates. Her Santa Monica house staff takes care of everything, leaving Agnes to focus on her trophy-wife responsibilities: look perfect, adore her older husband, and wear terribly expensive (if uncomfortable) underwear.

When her husband disappears, leaving Agnes and their infant daughter with no money, no home, and no staff, she is forced to move across the country, where she lands a job teaching at an all-boys boarding school in the Bronx. So long, organic quinoa bowls and sunshine-filled California life. Hello, processed food, pest-infested house, and twelve-year-old-boy humor—all day, every day.

But it’s in this place of second chances (and giant bugs), where Agnes is unexpectedly forced to take care of herself and her daughter, where she finds out the kind of woman she can be. Ultimately, she has to decide if she prefers the woman and mother she has become…or the trophy life she left behind.

Authentic and sharply witty, Trophy Life is proof that granny panties and mom coats might not be the answer to everything; they’re simply comfortable (if slightly unattractive) reminders of what happens when one life ends…and real life begins.

 

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What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with?  

Nora Ephron, Tina Fey and Bruce Springsteen, just so I could finally meet him.

 

 

Current binge series?

I am currently binging the Israeli show Shtisl on Netflix.

 

 

Last favorite book?

I was blown away by The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. I loved it so much, I read the final page and started all over again.

 

 

What 3 things do you pack in your bag for your dream vacation?  Where is it?

Packing: For reasons which will be immediately clear, for any vacation I pack travels packets of Miralax and Metamucil, and I never travel without an eye mask because I am a terrible sleeper anywhere, but especially in a strange bed. I don’t like being landlocked, so any good vacation has to involve a body of water – can be the beach or a big city with a river running through it.

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

NYT. Each time I read US Weekly, I know fewer and fewer of the celebrities, which just make feels old. Reading the NYT makes me feel like a spring chicken.  

 

 

Last person you sent a text message to?

Probably to my husband, asking him what time he was going to be home. And then one five minutes later asking again.

 

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

Pretty much anything by Ian McEwan, but mostly Atonement, which is a book I read yearly. I feel the same way about Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

 

Yes, I had several – most notable was my high school English teacher Judith Beiner who told to write, write, and then write some more.

 

 

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

Yes. It really depends on my mood. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Duke Ellington and the Killers.

Describe your writing space?

 

My home office is completely uninsulated so I can only use it for six months a year, at most. Right now, I’m writing at my dining room table. If I write anywhere near my bed, I end up napping. I have been known to take mid-day catnaps on the couch; but those don’t count.

 

Coffee or tea?

 

Both. Usually black coffee until midday and the black tea with milk.

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

Depends on the recipient, but The Most of Nora Ephron is a great gift.

 

If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?

 

Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. If I could only listen to one song for the rest of time, that would be it.

What/Who inspires you?

The small details and muddiness of everyday life and the things that happen to all of us that nobody likes to talk about. Those inspire me to write.

 

Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

 

No, which may explain why I don’t know anyone in Us Weekly anymore.

 

Favorite Instagram account?

@LondonIsPink which is pictures of London buildings with pink door, parks with pink trees, or city streets with a random pink car parked. It’s a beautiful collection.

If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be?

 

Probably Gatsby and it would be the color of champagne.

Current #TBR pile?

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

In John Irving’s The Hotel Hampshire, a father gives his children the advice, “Keep passing the open windows.” I love that advice, that when times are tough, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and move forward.

 

 

About the author

Lea Geller is a recovering lawyer who lives in New York with her husband and children. She began her writing career by blogging about her adventures in the trenches of parenting, and got the idea for Trophy Life when her two sons were in middle school.

When Lea’s not eavesdropping on her children, she can be found running, drinking diner coffee, and occasionally teaching middle-school English. She enjoys embarrassing her family by posting pictures of her vegetable garden on Instagram (#IgrewDinner). You can follow her at https://www.leageller.com/.

Follow Lea:

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Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Open Book with Eithne Shortall

Happiest of St. Paddy’s Day to you!  Much luck and love, all year long!  What better than an Irish love story to make this day complete ❤  Grace After Henry by Eithne Shortall, is a heartbreaking love story that has echos of JoJo Moyes sprinkled throughout.  Eithne is my latest Open Book and she gives some great advice, also loves Busy Phillips Instagram and has a fabulous TBR pile!  Plus Eithne other novel, Love in Row 27, has been optioned for a TV show, love a good page to screen 😉

 

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via Amazon ~

A quirky love story set in Dublin that’s perfect for fans of PS, I Love You and Jojo Moyes, Grace After Henry is a funny, heartfelt debut novel about one woman learning what it means to move on and to let go.

When the love of her life, Henry, is killed in a freak biking accident, Grace feels like she’s lost her own shadow. In his absence, she must put her world back together: she moves into the Dublin dream house they bought together, she returns to work as a chef, she watches TV with her nosy elderly neighbor. But, through it all, she’s ever aware of the growing Henry-shaped hole in her life.

Until his long-lost twin brother knocks on her door.

Newly arrived in Ireland on his own search for answers, Andy is Henry, and yet not quite. Soon Grace isn’t sure if she’s learning to let go or becoming desperate to hold on. Grace After Henry is a funny, tender, and bittersweet story about love, loss, and second chances.

 

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1. What three celebrities/authors/figures- living or dead, would
you want to have a book club with?

Nora Ephron, Margaret Atwood and someone with an excellent wine
cellar.

2. Current binge series?

Do you mean books? If so, I’m currently making a start on PD James’s
back catalogue. I spent last year devouring everything Liane Moriarty
wrote, and I think 2019 will be the year of PD James.
If you mean TV, I don’t watch a lot of TV but I am currently wrapped
up in Sex Education on Netflix. I love anything set in the world of teen
angst, although I do wish the show would make up its mind about
where, if not when, it is set.

3. Last favorite book?

I loved Sally Rooney’s Normal People and Sarah Winman’s Tin Man.

4. What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream
vacation?  Where is it?

1. Books, at least three.
2. SPF, I worshipped the sun in my late teens/early twenties and
am now trying to make amends.
3. A swimsuit that can withstand waves.
If it’s a sun holiday – which my packing list suggests that it is – then it
has to be the Greek Islands.

5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Even though I’m based in Ireland, I do have a New York Times
subscription. So it’s a no-brainer.
6. Last person you sent a text message to?

My boyfriend. Asking him to pick up a Cornetto Classico ice-cream on
his way home. He obliged.

7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?

There are so many. But the last one was Liane Moriarty’s Big Little
Lies.

8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a
writer?

Not specifically, but I had amazing primary school teachers who
encouraged my confidence and generally taught me to believe in
myself and my abilities. To that end, I would namecheck Maire
McHugh.

9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?

I almost always write in complete silence. I might listen to music
before writing, to put me in the mood. With Grace After Henry, I never
did that. I did, however, lie on the floor of my writing room and try to
imagine how it would feel to have the love of my life die. When I found
myself on the verge of tears, I knew I was ready to write.

10. Describe your writing space?

It has changed. I wrote most of Grace After Henry in a small bungalow
in the middle of nowhere in the west of Ireland. There were always
multiple birds hopping around outside my window, but some days that
was all the living interaction I had. I went there to try to imagine my
way into Grace’s head – to make myself feel what it would be to be all
alone. My next book, however, was written in a writing room at my
home in Dublin. That room is wall-to-wall books, with a view from my
desk into the back garden.
11. Coffee or tea?

Tea, and lots of it.

12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

I have bought several copies of several books as gifts. Among them
are Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Tana French’s The Secret
Place, John Banville’s Book of Evidence and Marian Keyes’ Rachel’s
Holiday.

13. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?

I’m very much looking forward to seeing how Sally Rooney’s Normal
People is adapted for the small screen.

14. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life
what would it be and why?

This is too hard. I can’t pick one. Although if Joni Mitchell’s Blue album
was just played on a loop, I’d be pretty happy with that.

15. What/Who inspires you?

A little piece of my grandmother has made it into all my book thus far.
She’s a no-nonsense woman who is very funny in her refusal to
indulge anyone about anything. She was the inspiration for Grace’s
neighbor Betty in Grace After Henry.

16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?

For the little TV I do watch, reality shows don’t make the cut.

17. Favorite Instagram account?

Currently enjoying Busy Philipps and Dawn O’Porter.

18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would
you call it and what shade would it be? 

Well I’m always in search of a good nude, so that’s the shade. And
then I guess I’d call it…. Naked Lunch?

19. Current #TBR pile?

I can’t actually look my TBR pile in the eye or I’ll start to
hyperventilate. But as I recall, Jo Spain’s Dirty Little Secrets and
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six are sitting at the top of it.

20. Best advice you’ve ever received?

“You’ll be dead soon.” I find it very uplifting. Don’t waste your time
worrying, you never know when you’re going to run out of it.

 

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What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag? ~ Jane Healey

I love a fabulous local author and love even more when they write about the Ah-mazing city of Boston!  The Beantown Girls, by Jane Healey, is about three best friends who volunteer for the Red Cross during WWll.  Out now, this historical fiction gem is a must for your reading list!  Read below to see what is on Jane’s Must-Have beauty list with a sneak peek into her timeless Rebecca Minkoff bag 🙂

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via Amazon ~

A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II’s brightest heroines—the best of friends—take on the front lines.

1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered.

Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines.

Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.

 

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What is your bag of choice?

I love my Rebecca Minkoff Mini Julian Backpack. It’s really versatile and has a bunch
of pockets.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?

I live in New England and in the winter my face needs all the moisture it can get. I
can’t live without Olehenriksen’s Truth Serum and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. And I
love Bareminerals Complexion Rescue tinted moisturizer with SPF and use that year
round.  I’m not a big lipstick person but I love a good lip gloss and my favorite Buxom Full-On Plumping Lip Polish Gloss. I have it in multiple shades.  My eyes are really sensitive and I have to be careful what I use. I’ve found the eyeliner and mascara combo that works best for me is Clinique’s Quickliner for Eyes Intense in Chocolate, and LOC Love of Color One and Done Shadow Stick in Champagne Problems.

What do you always carry on for beauty products for travel?

I always carry a good eye cream and concealer, especially for long flights. My
favorite eye cream is Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream and my tried and true
concealer is MAC’s Mineralize Concealer. I also bring an exfoliator, Olehenriksen
Transforming Walnut Scrub, because air travel can do such a number on your skin.

What are you currently reading?

My 12yo daughter is a total introvert, so I’m currently reading Quiet Power: The
Secret Strengths of Introverts. It’s a guide for kids and teens from Susan Cain, the
author who wrote of the worldwide bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts
in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. It’s really fascinating and it’s given me such a
great perspective on my daughter’s personality.

And any other fun item/must-have that you always have with you?

I have a small vintage compact mirror that I bought in London with a picture of a
cartoon cat on the front. I also always have an ultrafine black Sharpie pen and sticky
notes – sometimes I write story ideas that come to me when I’m driving, etc. but
often it’s just reminders to pick up the dry cleaning or something!

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What’s in my Bookish {Beauty} Bag? ~ Lindsay Emory

You know I love a royal and I love a Louis Vuitton just as much so when Lindsay Emory opened her LV and shared her latest novel, The Royal Runaway, I knew she’d be my kinda gal 😉  Read below about her beauty faves and planner obsession- I spy what looks like a Vuitton planner cover, OH MY! ❤

RoyalRunaway_4-4

via Amazon ~

For fans of The Princess Diaries and The Royal We comes a fun and daring novel about a modern-day princess who teams up with a spy to find out what happened to the fiancé who left her at the altar—and who just might get her own fairytale in the process.

Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent is so over this princess thing.

After her fiancé jilted her on their wedding day, she’s finally back home after spending four months in exile—aka it’s back to press conferences, public appearances, and putting on a show for the Driedish nation as the perfect princess they expect her to be. But Thea’s sick of duty. After all, that’s what got her into this mess in the first place.

So when she sneaks out of the palace and meets a sexy Scot named Nick in a local bar, she relishes the chance to be a normal woman for a change. But just as she thinks she’s found her Prince Charming for the night, he reveals his intentions are less than honorable: he’s the brother of her former fiancé, a British spy, and he’s not above blackmail. As Thea reluctantly joins forces with Nick to find out what happened the day her fiancé disappeared, together they discover a secret that could destroy a centuries-old monarchy and change life as they know it.

Funny, fast-paced, and full of more twists and turns than the castle Thea lives in, The Royal Runaway is a fresh romantic comedy that will leave you cheering for the modern-day royal who chucks the rulebook aside to create her own happily-ever-after.

 

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What is your bag of choice?- purse/tote/backpack and brand that you have?
I’m a “purse enthusiast”  so I can’t pick a favorite – they all have a special role to play in my life. But one of my all-time favorites is this Speedy Bandoliere 30 in Damier Ebene by Louis Vuitton. I bought it while visiting my sister, who was living in Paris at the time. I hadn’t planned this purchase at all, but we went in the store and I tried it on and it was love. It’s waterproof, lightweight and goes with everything and – maybe even better – it was a good deal. With the exchange rate and the VAT refund, I got it for more than a third off U.S. retail.

What are your top favorite beauty picks?  
I’m going to sound super boring, but skin care is key. My top three skin care must-haves are a great sunscreen (I like the Japanese Biore ones), a vitamin C serum (I’m trying a new one from The Ordinary now) and a retinoid (which my dermatologist prescribes.)

For makeup, I love the versatility of a Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick and the ease and durability of a Laura Mercier caviar stick, which is a cream eyeshadow stick that really lasts all day on my, um, let’s call them, dewy eyelids.

What do you always carry in your bag/purse/carry-on for beauty products?  
I always have a lip gloss of some kind because I need something that can be put on without too much fuss when I’m on the go. Also Boscia blotting papers because Texas.

What are you currently reading (can be books/magazines)
I just finished Ilona Andrews’ latest, Iron and Magic, which was so wonderful it sent me into a deep depression because the next one in the series won’t be out until 2019. It’s the best/worst kind of torture for a reader!

And any other fun item/must-have that you always have with you 🙂

I am a huge planner girl. I’m currently obsessed with my Hobonichi Cousin combined with a Micron 01 ultra fine pen. Using these two things together keep me sane. Also, I carry packets of True Lemon to add to my iced water (another beauty tip – hydrate!) and a rollerball filled with my homemade essential oil blend of lavender, peppermint and lemon. It’s supposed to be for allergies and headaches, but I add extra peppermint and on a hot Texas day, it’s delightful on the back of my neck.

 

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Accessorize Your Bookshelves #booksarechic

With the start of a new month, the month of FASHION, I thought it would be fitting to compile a list of my favorite, most chic reads.  I was also feeling inspired after Stella Artois release their latest campaign featuring Sarah Jessica Parker, bringing back our most beloved, Carrie Bradshaw.  I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I saw her back in action- tulle, stilettos and all.  There are so many books on fashion, designers, glam, etc. so this is just a slice of the fashion pie.  I have been collecting Hollywood glam and fashion coffee table books and bios for years and they are something I still love to collect.  Lots of the best ones are out of print, so the thrill of the hunt at used bookstores or EBAY is just as exciting as finding a fashion bargain!  Let me know your favorites so I can add them to my list 😉

 

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Accessorize your bookshelf

 

Grace: A Memoir ~ Grace Coddington

Eleanor Lambert: Still Here ~ John A. Tiffany

 

 

Sex and they City: Kiss and Tell ~ Amy Sohn

She ~ Kate Spade

 

 

Style A to Zoe ~ Rachel Zoe

Coco Chanel ~ Megan Hess

 

The Essential Marilyn Monroe ~ Joshua Greene

Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl ~ Jay Jorgensen

 

The Woman I Wanted to be ~ Diane Von Furstenberg

Journey of the Dress ~ Diane Von Furstenberg

 

Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the ’90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion ~ Maureen Callahan

Louis Vuitton :Marc Jacobs ~ Pamela Golbin and Yves Carcelle

Fashionable Fiction

 

 

The Devil Wears Prada ~ Lauren Weisberger

The Knockoff ~ Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Fashion Flicks

 

*The September Issue

*The Gospel According to Andre’

 

*McQueen

*The First Monday in May

Open Book with Jennifer Robson

Devoted followers of Bliss, Beauty and Books know that I am royally obsessed and literally love all things royal ~ old and new.  When I heard about Jennifer’s book, I knew it would be a true gem and was thrilled receive an early copy.  For the fashion lover to the most fabulous anglophiles, The Gown is a must for your 2019 TBR pile.  As always books are chic but books about the royals may just be the chicest ❤

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via Amazon ~

One of December’s most anticipated reads from InStyle, HelloGiggles, Hypable, Bookbub, and Bookriot!

One of Real Simple’s Best Historical Fiction novels of the year!

 

The Gown is marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war.”–Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.

“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”

—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

 

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What three celebrities/authors/figures, living or dead, would you want to have a book club with?

I’ve just started work on a book about Hollywood in the early 1950s, so let’s say Judy Garland, Gloria Grahame, and Betty Grable.

 

Current binge series?

The Crown. I couldn’t let myself watch it while I was writing The Gown, so now I’m all in. Even my husband is hooked!

 

Last favorite book?

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley. I read an early ARC and gobbled it up in an overnight binge read. So, so good.

 

What three things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation? Where is it? 

An e-reader, because of stupid baggage restrictions and the cost of lugging 15 books on holiday. An enormous hat, so I can hide under the brim and read all day. A swimsuit that covers up my anxiety areas but is (miraculously) comfortable.

 

Sunday NYT or US Weekly?

Sunday NYT. I ration out the sections over the course of the weekend like they’re pieces of chocolate.

 

Last person you sent a text message to?

My sister. Our daily check-in.

 

Book you read that you wished you wrote?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Not for the supernatural parts – for the descriptions of doing research at Oxford. She captured it perfectly, and she managed to make it interesting to read about. (At least I found those parts interesting!)

 

Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?

In my sophomore year at King’s University College I had the most amazing English professor, Lorraine DiCicco. She was such a tough marker, and she had such high expectations, that I bent over backwards to please her – and along the way I learned a lot about the craft of writing. I met up with Lorraine again last year and was finally able to thank her.

 

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who? 

 Only classical music, only instrumental, and typically from the general era I’m writing about. I listened to a lot of Elgar when I was writing my World War One books.

 

Describe your writing space? 

I have a small room at the back of my house, and it has just enough space for a desk and a row of bookcases and a ratty old Ikea Poang chair. I sit in the chair with my laptop balanced on my knees, and I watch the birds and squirrels in my back garden, and sometimes I even get a bit of writing done, too.

 

Coffee or tea?

 Despite the amount of tea-drinking that goes on in my books, coffee is the fuel that keeps me going.

 

Do you have a favorite book that you gift?

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird

 

Book that you wished they would make a movie out of? 

The Hole in the Middle by my friend Kate Hilton. It’s about a thousand times more engaging than the romcoms Netflix keeps making, and there’s a twist at the end that’s incredibly surprising and satisfying.

 

If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why? 

“Winter Birds” by Ray LaMontagne, because it’s a poem set to music, and his words remind me why I want to write: “And though all these things will change / The memories will remain” is what I set out to do when I create my stories.

 

What/Who inspires you? 

People who defend the powerless and voiceless, even when they know it will lead to their personal ruin.

 

Bravo reality TV – yes or no?

Hard no. The only reality TV I can watch without an anxiety attack are the baking shows. The Great Canadian Baking Show is my current fave.

 

Favorite Instagram account? 

drinkingwithchickens – Kate Richards mixes level-11 Instagramming skills with the funniest pictures ever (mainly of her chickens giving her cranky looks). And her cocktail recipes are sensational.

 

If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be? 

Miriam, after one of the heroines in The Gown, and it would be the perfect shade of bright coral red without any blue undertones.

 

Current #TBR pile? 

Right now I have two piles: one of ARCs, and next to it an even higher stack of history books that jumped into my hands at the bookstore. I hate when that happens.

 

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

“Just write the book, Jen.” From my sister, sometime in early 2008, after I’d sent her the bazillionth outline for a book that eventually becameSomewhere in France. If she hadn’t been such a hard-ass I’d probably still be fussing with that outline.

 

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