Hannibal Free Public Library

The Gown


Jennifer Robson

February 28, 2022

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.


Discussion Questions

1. How would you describe Ann Hughes? What affect did her mother's frequent criticism of her embroidery work have on Ann? How would you describe Ann's emotional state in the aftermath of the war?

2. Ann and Miriam Dassin become friends as the two work on the gown together. What do the women have in common, and in what ways are they different from one another? What forms the basis of their friendship—why are they drawn to one another?

3. How were both women, perhaps especially Miriam, scarred by the war, and how does each woman bear her scars? Why is Miriam so reluctant to tell Ann about Ravensbruck?

4. In what way does the friendship between Ann and Miriam ultimately lead to healing for both women? Do you have a friendship as nurturing as Ann and Miriam's?

6. Talk about the symbolic importance of the gown with regards to the British public. With its 10,000 seed pearls sewn into ivory silk, the gown seems to be an extravagance that might be considered excessive in a time of rationing. What was the public reaction to its luxuriousness?

Follow-up to Question 6: Ann's view of the the gown's excess is positive:

The royal family had made sacrifices, same as the rest of them.… The princess deserved a proper wedding...with a glorious gown.… Surely the gray-faced men in Whitehall wouldn't insist on some dreary affair.

Is Ann biased because she is working on the gown? Or is she right in that the Royal family "deserves" a beautiful wedding? What are your thoughts?

8. Talk about Ann's "bittersweet moment" after she has completed the gown? Do you understand her feelings of nostalgia?

Adapted from:https://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/fiction/11444-gown-robson?start=3