The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn

Book - 2004
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The wonderful new novel from the much loved author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and Falling Angels. The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are a set of six medieval tapestries. Beautiful, intricate and expertly made, they are also mysterious in their origin and meaning. Tapestries give an appearance of order and continuity, as if designed and made by one person, belying the complicated process required to create them. Weavers, patrons, designers, artists, merchants and apprentices were involved in their making, and behind them were the wives, daughters and servants who exercised influences over their men. Like the many strands of wool and silk woven together into one cloth, so these people came together in a complex dance to create the whole picture. tapestries to hang in his chateau. Nicolas, his chosen designer, meets le Viste's wife Genevieve and his daughter Claude, both of whom take a keen interest in the tapestries. From Paris, Nicolas moves to a weaver's workshop in Brussels. The creation of the tapestries brings together people who would not otherwise meet -- their lives become entangled, and so do their desires. As they fall in love, are shunned, take revenge, find unrequited love, turn to the church or to pagan ideals, the tapestries become to each an ideal vision of life -- yet all discover that they are unable to make this ideal world their own.
Publisher: New York : Dutton, 2004
ISBN: 9780007140916
Branch Call Number: CHEV
Characteristics: 250 p


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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.

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.

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.

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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