In grim postwar London, Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin work in the embroidery workshop of fashion designer Norman Hartnell. Ann has lost most of her family to illness or the war, and when her sister-in-law emigrates to Canada to live with her brothers, Ann asks Miriam, a recent immigrant from France, to move in with her. Hartnell is a favorite of the royal family, and when he gets the commission for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown, Ann and Miriam play a leading role in making his design come to life.
Ann never speaks of her embroidery talent or her time at Hartnell, but when she dies, having moved to Canada in her twenties, she leaves her granddaughter Heather a box with embroidery samples and a few photographs. Heather sets out to uncover her grandmother’s story, which leads her to London, and to Miriam.
The coincidences that propel this story are a bit unbelievable, but the details of life in postwar London, and the royal wedding, make an enjoyable read.