Costco’s suggested Book Club read provides
insight into a selected novel, as well as an
appropriate recipe to accompany your
own book club’s discussion.
hen the British royal family
commissions a London fash-
ion house to create Princess
Elizabeth’s bridal gown in
;;;;, two young embroiderers—Ann, a
working-class English girl, and Miriam, a
French émigré—are assigned to add the
intricate stitching. Almost ;; years later
in Toronto, Heather discovers that her
late grandmother’s embroidery motifs
match those on Elizabeth’s gown.
Heather sets out to unravel the mysteries
of her grandmother’s past. And there you
have the central storylines of The Gown,
by Jennifer Robson.
The book depicts the struggle of
Londoners to recover from the deprivations of World War II. For Ann and
Miriam, food is meager: leftover porridge,
weak tea, stale bread, watery jam. News of
the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and
Philip Mountbatten, though, elevates
their spirits and injects a sense of hope.
WRobson has a favorite recipe for One-Egg Cake that to her represents the shortages of war and the community spirit
that prevailed. “What struck me about the
war years was how people shared what
they had, even when there was precious
little to go around,” she says. “I imagine
a group of neighbors would have made
this cake … each house would have contributed a bit of butter and sugar, someone
would have offered up a rare fresh egg and
everyone got a tiny slice of the finished
cake.” It’s Robson’s go-to cake for many
events; recently, she’s served it at tea parties celebrating royal nuptials.
Even during hard times, Robson’s
characters maintain the tradition of
taking afternoon tea. In postwar London,
teatime often meant watered-down tea;
it evolved to include tea, scones and more.
To create a regal atmosphere at your
book club meeting, Robson recommends
decorating your space British-wedding-style: Make traditional bunting from
wrapping paper triangles strung on
ribbon and add small posies from a mixed
grocery-store bouquet (cut the stems
short and arrange blossoms in vintage
creamer jugs). Use your finest linen and
china, she advises, and “imagine the
queen herself will be a guest and decorate
Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp are behind
the cookbook and website The Book Club
Cookbook ( bookclubcookbook.com).
The Gown explores
postwar scarcity, family
secrets and more
by JUDY GELMAN
VICKI LEVY KRUPP
This recipe originated with
Katie Graham, the great-aunt
of Jennifer Robson’s family
friend Stevie Cameron. The
cake tastes even better a day
or two after baking.
½ cup butter, at room
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter
a 9-inch round pan and line the
bottom with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar; beat
in the egg. In a separate bowl,
sift together the flour, baking
powder and salt. Stir into the
butter mixture, alternating with
the milk. Stir in vanilla.
Bake for about 30 minutes,
or until risen and just pulling
away from the sides of the pan.
Makes one 9-inch round cake.
Recipe courtesy of Jennifer Robson.
The Gown (Item #1302777,
12/31) is available in most