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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier » User review

Oh! What a Tale She Weaves

  • Dec 3, 2008
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This is my favorite kind of book. One to pick up, savor each word and never want to put down. Chevalier has a rich imagination, basing this historical fiction on an existing series of fine tapestries with questionable (undocumented) history, and telling the story through (nearly) all involved in their creation. 

We begin with the painter, Nicolas des Innocents, who conceptualizes the stories and major symbolisms of the work. A womanizer, he's brash and vain, yet his charm wins the day with the ladies and the reader. He learns much through his experience with the women he depicts as the tapestries take form. One can't help but fall in love with him. He calls the women he wishes to seduce, "Beauty," and offers to tell them the story of the unicorn's horn. 

Through the words of Nicolas' true object of desire, Claude, the daughter of the nobleman commissioning the work, we learn much about the place of women in Paris society at the end of the fifteenth century. In fact, this is also true about all the ladies featured in the story and ultimately in the tapestry: Claude's long-suffering mother, Genevieve de Nanterre, the blind daughter of the weaver, Alienor, and her mother, Christine, who longs to be a weaver although the Brussel's weaver's guild forbids it. 

Other unforgettable characters include the lady-in-waiting, Beatrice, and the servant Marie-Celeste. 

Chevalier has clearly done her research, and in doing so, allows the reader to experience this story with all five senses. In taking admitted liberties with the language, it is an utterly readable tale and I give it my highest recommendation. 
The Lady and the Unicorn The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestry

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More The Lady and the Unicorn by Tr... reviews
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
It's interesting how Chevalier takes works of art and creates these backstories to go along with them. It's pretty cool.
review by . June 27, 2010
I read this novel at once. I felt the same appetite for art and romantic love as the characters in the story. You discover and get involved into the life of the artists and the artisans in the Middle Age in Europe. The story is about the creation of extraordinary tapestries with symbolic meaning: the lady's seduction of the unicorn, the five senses, the lady's spirituality. You can really feel the beauty and the power of those tapestries and the mystery around them. I like the fact that …
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Michele VanOrt Cozzens ()
Ranked #260
I am the mother of two daughters--a tween and a teen. Need I say more about my current state of mind?
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