The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn

Book - 2004
Average Rating:
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Bewitching art experts and enthusiasts alike for centuries, the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries hang today in the Cluny Museum in Paris.In each, an elegant lady and a unicorn stand or sit on an island of grass surrounded by a rich background of animals and flowers. Little is known about them except that they were woven toward the end of the fifteenth century and bear the coat of arms of a wealthy family from Lyons.Tracy Chevalier takes readers back to the tapestries’ creation, giving life to the men who designed and made them, as well as the wives, daughters, and servants who exercised subtle (and not so subtle) influences over their men. Like the many different strands of wool and silk that were woven together into one cloth, the lives and fates of these people entwine in complex patterns, crisscrossing as they seek desires sensual and spiritual, temporal and eternal.An extraordinary story exquisitely told, Tracy Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicornweaves history and fiction into a beautiful, timeless, and intriguing literary tapestry that rivals in grace and grandeur the masterpiece that inspired it.
Publisher: New York : Dutton, c2004.
ISBN: 9780525947677
0525947671
Branch Call Number: FIC/CHEVALIER
Characteristics: 250 p. ; 21 cm.

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WVMLStaffPicks Jan 05, 2015

This is art history at its romantic best. A love story that traces the making and the mystery behind the beautiful 15th century tapestries of a woman’s seduction of a unicorn. These tapestries hang today in Paris in a quiet chamber of the Cluny Museum. The tapestries are extraordinarily beautiful and tempt the viewer to believe that they must portray a real woman with her own stories to tell. Chevalier’s marvellous imagination takes us back to the time of their making and creates a world of characters and events that bring the tapestries alive.

c
CAROWOZFAN
Feb 26, 2014

Really, really, really good! I enjoyed it very much. The characters were realistic and I felt as though I was there! Amazing.

a
artemishi
Dec 28, 2013

The Lady and the Unicorn is medieval historical fiction done well- though the characters live in a time and culture far removed from my daily experience of life, I could relate to them completely. Except Nicolas des Innocents, who is a rake and a scoundrel.

This book has a unique narrative style, with each chapter being told by a different character in the ensemble. The primary journey is that of Nicolas, but every character undergoes a transformation of some sort, and there are no happy endings.

I was impressed with the historical detail that was woven into the storyline, especially the attention to detail regarding the creation of tapestries. I had no idea how that happened in the middle ages, and feel like I have some sense of it (basic, but still) after reading this.

I recommend it to fans of historical fiction, medieval life, ensemble casts, and the dynamic between parents and children.

l
Lucchesa
Jan 16, 2013

I preferred Girl w/a Pearl Earring. I enjoyed Chevalier's evocation of the tapestry workshops of 1490s Brussels, especially when the characters were working all-out to meet a patron's unreasonable deadline, but I found two of the main characters repellent and many of the others simply dull.

Chavalier is not the most in depth historical writer but her depiciton of medieval life is fascinating (right down to the smell of the wool dyers) and the reality of life for women in an emerging merchant class is though provoking. I will always look at tapestry with, more informed appreciation and I am glad I read the book but it is not great literature. It would not be a good choice for a more esoteric book club but it is a great 1-2 day read for relaxation

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