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A set of bewitching medieval tapestries hangs today in a protected chamber in Paris. They appear to portray a woman's seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown - until now. Paris, 1490. A shrewd French nobleman commissions six lavish tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. He hires the charismatic, arrogant, sublimely talented Nicolas d A set of bewitching medieval tapestries hangs today in a protected chamber in Paris. They appear to portray a woman's seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown - until now. Paris, 1490. A shrewd French nobleman commissions six lavish tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. He hires the charismatic, arrogant, sublimely talented Nicolas des Innocents to design them. Nicolas creates havoc among the women in the house - mother and daughter, servant and lady-in-waiting - before taking his designs north to the Brussels workshop where the tapestries are to be woven. There, master-weaver Georges de la Chapelle risks everything he has on finishing the tapestries - his finest, most intricate work - on time for his exacting French client. Ill-prepared for temptation and seduction, he and his family are consumed by the project and by their dealings with the hot-blooded painter from Paris. The results change all their lives - lives that have been captured in the tapestries, for those who know where to look.


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A set of bewitching medieval tapestries hangs today in a protected chamber in Paris. They appear to portray a woman's seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown - until now. Paris, 1490. A shrewd French nobleman commissions six lavish tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. He hires the charismatic, arrogant, sublimely talented Nicolas d A set of bewitching medieval tapestries hangs today in a protected chamber in Paris. They appear to portray a woman's seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown - until now. Paris, 1490. A shrewd French nobleman commissions six lavish tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. He hires the charismatic, arrogant, sublimely talented Nicolas des Innocents to design them. Nicolas creates havoc among the women in the house - mother and daughter, servant and lady-in-waiting - before taking his designs north to the Brussels workshop where the tapestries are to be woven. There, master-weaver Georges de la Chapelle risks everything he has on finishing the tapestries - his finest, most intricate work - on time for his exacting French client. Ill-prepared for temptation and seduction, he and his family are consumed by the project and by their dealings with the hot-blooded painter from Paris. The results change all their lives - lives that have been captured in the tapestries, for those who know where to look.

30 review for The Lady And The Unicorn Limited Edition

  1. 5 out of 5

    CatarinaG

    Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! I found Lady and the Unicorn even better than Girl with a Pearl Earring. I felt utterly transported to the middle ages and immersed in a very good tale, immaculately told. As she did with The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier takes a classic work of art and artfully spins a tale inspired by the original which becomes an original itself. It was specially fascinating living among the Brussels weavers and coming to understand the magnitude of their task. One Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! I found Lady and the Unicorn even better than Girl with a Pearl Earring. I felt utterly transported to the middle ages and immersed in a very good tale, immaculately told. As she did with The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier takes a classic work of art and artfully spins a tale inspired by the original which becomes an original itself. It was specially fascinating living among the Brussels weavers and coming to understand the magnitude of their task. One almost feels their physical discomfort and certainly the realities of a labor intensive craft. It was the part of the book I most enjoyed. Next time I go to Paris I will not miss the Cluny Museum to see the tapestries for myself! Meanwhile we can see them (in full size) at VanderNat's home page or at Tracy Chevalier's official site One of the most beautifull books I have ever read :) Now on I will look for the color blue in old tapestries with 'other eyes'. ;)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    If I ever read the word maidenhead again in a novel, I will vomit from the flashback of reading this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    In the same vein as her book Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Lady and the Unicorn is a fictional account of the story surrounding the creation of the famed Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, now housed at the Musee national du Moyen-Age (Musee Cluny) in Paris. This topic was particularly intriguing to me, since I'd seen the tapestries in person back in 2001. While the book provides a really interesting up-close look at the design and weaving processes, I could have done with out the rest of the stor In the same vein as her book Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Lady and the Unicorn is a fictional account of the story surrounding the creation of the famed Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, now housed at the Musee national du Moyen-Age (Musee Cluny) in Paris. This topic was particularly intriguing to me, since I'd seen the tapestries in person back in 2001. While the book provides a really interesting up-close look at the design and weaving processes, I could have done with out the rest of the story, which was fairly bawdy. I didn't really care about the characters—just the tapestries. :D It's a good read if you want to find out how it was done (keeping in mind that it's not really a history book) and don't mind the bawdiness, but I wouldn't exactly recommend it to my mother. ...who of course, then received the book as a gift from a friend and read it anyway. Go figure.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Morticia Adams

    I hope someone has pointed out to Tracy Chevalier that if you are going to have seven different narrators for your story, you really need to give each of them a distinctive voice. This is a major failing of this novel, which I found plodding and flat, and lacking in any genuine exploration of character or motivation. The harsh working lives of the weavers are described in some detail but the description doesn't connect with the characters. And also, if you are going to use the first person in a I hope someone has pointed out to Tracy Chevalier that if you are going to have seven different narrators for your story, you really need to give each of them a distinctive voice. This is a major failing of this novel, which I found plodding and flat, and lacking in any genuine exploration of character or motivation. The harsh working lives of the weavers are described in some detail but the description doesn't connect with the characters. And also, if you are going to use the first person in a historical novel, try to make it fit the context, and don't describe anything as "peppered with" since peppers in this era would not have been very well known. I know that isn't a major flaw but it just added to the sense of inauthenticity. The tapestries aren't one of my favourite works of art anyway, and the twee way in which the unicorn allegory was presented made me want to go and find a unicorn and strangle it! The Girl with the Pearl Earring wasn't a bad read - but having read this later product, I suspect that this writer hasn't really got much more to say.

  5. 4 out of 5

    katherine brown

    What I learned from this book is I should never ever read anything by this author ever again. A friend of mine was enthralled by The Virgin Blue and requested I read it. Although I hated it I thought I'd possibly give The Lady and the Unicorn a chance since I love art history. Sadly, I cannot say I liked a single thing about this book. I hated the plot, story, characters and writing style. Hated. What I learned from this book is I should never ever read anything by this author ever again. A friend of mine was enthralled by The Virgin Blue and requested I read it. Although I hated it I thought I'd possibly give The Lady and the Unicorn a chance since I love art history. Sadly, I cannot say I liked a single thing about this book. I hated the plot, story, characters and writing style. Hated.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    Was hoping to enjoy The Lady and the Unicorn after reading Burning Bright a few years earlier, which is, to be honest, far superior to this. After the action moves away from the Le Viste family, it kind of goes downhill from there. Nicholas is thoroughly unlikeable as a character (whether this was meant to be deliberate or not, I couldn't tell). The only interesting person was Genevieve de Nanterre. Also, what's the deal with Chevalier missing out on the chance to use Jean Le Viste's narrative v Was hoping to enjoy The Lady and the Unicorn after reading Burning Bright a few years earlier, which is, to be honest, far superior to this. After the action moves away from the Le Viste family, it kind of goes downhill from there. Nicholas is thoroughly unlikeable as a character (whether this was meant to be deliberate or not, I couldn't tell). The only interesting person was Genevieve de Nanterre. Also, what's the deal with Chevalier missing out on the chance to use Jean Le Viste's narrative voice? He is the reason the tapestry is made at all, but we only get a few glimpses of him being little more than a stereotype (of the "I'm-so-damn-important-that-I'll-blame-my-lack-of-an-heir-on-my-wife-simply-because-no-one-will-dare-argue-with-me" variety) and all round bastard. Aside from all this, the writing is clunky. Nicholas leers after any woman with a pulse (including fourteen year old girls) and comes out with cringeworthy lines such as "The sight of her tongue made me hard. I wanted to plough her" and "Come closer, my dear, and see my plums. Squeeze them." Had the writing been less like a Mills & Boon novel it could have just about saved this book. Oh, well. I'm hoping Remarkable Creatures is going to turn out better.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lavinia

    I suppose that's how you write historical fiction (looking at you, Simone van der Vlugt!) The Brussels section is glorious, with all the weaving details and the particulars of the craft. I'm beyond amazed each time an author takes the hard way and engages in lots of research, such as tapestry techniques in the Middle Ages—setting up looms, threads, colours, dyeing methods and all that jazz—and manages to bring everything together in an enthralling narrative. Also, I'm constantly amazed at how inc I suppose that's how you write historical fiction (looking at you, Simone van der Vlugt!) The Brussels section is glorious, with all the weaving details and the particulars of the craft. I'm beyond amazed each time an author takes the hard way and engages in lots of research, such as tapestry techniques in the Middle Ages—setting up looms, threads, colours, dyeing methods and all that jazz—and manages to bring everything together in an enthralling narrative. Also, I'm constantly amazed at how incredibly well the craft guilds were organized in Medieval Flanders. The Paris section is a bit trivial, but somewhat appropriate, I guess? Unfortunately, I didn't connect with any of the characters (definitely didn't root for the unlikely pair), but having the story told from multiple pov certainly helped with shaping and depth.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I am impressed. I never thought this book would be as lovely as Girl with a Pearl Earring: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...! First let me just explain that this is a book of historical fiction. In the Museé National du Moyen-Age we can today see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. They are six tapestries, each representing one of our five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste and the sixth, that one is known as Á Mon Seul Désir, for these words are found woven there. In English the I am impressed. I never thought this book would be as lovely as Girl with a Pearl Earring: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...! First let me just explain that this is a book of historical fiction. In the Museé National du Moyen-Age we can today see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. They are six tapestries, each representing one of our five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste and the sixth, that one is known as Á Mon Seul Désir, for these words are found woven there. In English the translation would be: my one, sole desire. Think about those words in conjunction with the theme of the other tapestries and imagine what they might mean. In any case, the tapestries and this book must be about seduction. Or is it about forgoing sensual pleasures? One cannot see if the women is putting in or taking out the jewels. Little is known of these wool and silk tapestries except that they were woven at the end of the 1400s, probably in Flanders. They were commissioned by the Le Visté family, since the banner is visible in all six of the tapestries. Tracy Chevalier weaves a credible story about these tapestries: Jean Le Visté, a fifteenth-century nobleman, close to the French King Charles VII, commissions Nicolas des Innocents, a talented miniaturist, tantalized by the charms of several beautiful women - maids, ladies-in-waiting and even Jean Le Visté’s daughter and wife, too. The tapestries are woven in Brussels by the renown weaver Georges de la Chapelle. The story captures the lives and times of noblemen and the guilds’ craftsmen living in Brussels and Paris at the end of the 1400s. Tracy Chevalier, the author, has done her homework. She knows these cities, the craftsmen and these times – down to the smallest details. She knows that in Brussels it is the early summer sun that shines the hottest: I sat back on my heels and raised my face to the sun. Early summer is good for sun, as it is directly overhead for longer during the day. I have always loved heat, though not from the fire. Fires scare me. I have singed my skirts too often by the fire. ‘Will you pick me a strawberry, Mademoiselle?’ Nicolas asked. ‘I have a thirst.’ ‘They’re not ripe yet,’ I snapped. I had meant to sound pleasant but he made me feel strange. And he was talking too loudly. People often do when they discover I am blind….. (pages 110-111: a short interchange of words between Nicolas and Aliénor de la Chapelle, the pretty, but blind daughter of Geroges de la Chapelle) Already we know by 100 pages that Nicolas has impregnated a maid in Paris, been under a table doing naughty things with fourteen-year-old Claude, the daughter of Jean Le Visté, and flirted with her mother, Geneviève de Nanterre. What more mischief and indeed with whom will we find Nicolas? Each character has a clear identity. There is rivalry between mother and daughter; there is jealousy and love too. Each of the women came alive. There is Aliénor the blind girl. There is Christine du Sablon, the wife of Georges and mother of Aliénor. Each of the women and also the men relate the events. Different chapters relate different characters’ thoughts. Each of the individuals has a different perspective. Each has their own problems, personality and standing and thus they cannot have the same view. I loved the blind girl’s thoughts. I also appreciated the two different mother daughter relationships. For me, there was a lot to consider. I love the playful seduction scenes. I love the authenticity of the descriptions. I know Brussels and the author describes the city perfectly. The details are interwoven into the tale of families. There is a wife that has given birth to only three daughters, and that is quite a failing when it is a son that is needed to carry on the family name. This novel is about not only the tapestries but also about women, several very different women. So while we learn history about these tapestries and times we also delve into familiar family relationships. The book is about rivalry between mothers and daughters, lost love between a husband and wife and about the life of women as they age. What makes it wonderful to read is the author’s ability to evoke different places and characters convincingly.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I enjoyed this book but did' not care much for the protagonist, the womanising and arrogant artist , Nicholas DE Innocents, but this is also about a noble Parisian family and a Brussels tradesman and his family in the late 15th century. An essay on relations between men and woman at they type, and a lot of symbolism between the characters in the book and the figures of the tapestry which is commissioned by a Parisian nobleman. Something to learn about tapestry making but does not deal with it in I enjoyed this book but did' not care much for the protagonist, the womanising and arrogant artist , Nicholas DE Innocents, but this is also about a noble Parisian family and a Brussels tradesman and his family in the late 15th century. An essay on relations between men and woman at they type, and a lot of symbolism between the characters in the book and the figures of the tapestry which is commissioned by a Parisian nobleman. Something to learn about tapestry making but does not deal with it in the same detail that say Irving Stone dealt marble in The Agony and The Ecstasy. Tracy Chevalier is a brilliant word-smith who brings to life the sights and sounds and emotions and activities of the period pieces she specializes in. Her novel written after this Burning Bright is even better than this one

  10. 4 out of 5

    Berengaria di Rossi

    "The Lady and the Unicorn" is tale about desire in all of its manifested forms. The desire to be of use, the desire to find happiness, the desire to be inspired, the desire to be free...and all centred around one of the most famous series of early Renaissance tapestries, thought to have been created around 1490 in Belgium. The (female) characters in the novel are at once the images in the tapestries and real women, their stories woven together like a tapestry to tell the story of the creation of "The Lady and the Unicorn" is tale about desire in all of its manifested forms. The desire to be of use, the desire to find happiness, the desire to be inspired, the desire to be free...and all centred around one of the most famous series of early Renaissance tapestries, thought to have been created around 1490 in Belgium. The (female) characters in the novel are at once the images in the tapestries and real women, their stories woven together like a tapestry to tell the story of the creation of the tapestries. A type of mirroring of a mirroring...with the inevitable refractions, exaggerations and misinterpretations that brings with it. Very, very interesting from a thematic and symbolic standpoint! They all can also be seen as allegorical types...just as the art of the Middle Ages / Renaissance was largely allegorical: There is the mother whose "seul desir" is to find spiritual peace (The Seeker). There is the maiden whose "seul desir" is to be as free as she can be (The Nymph). There is the blind girl whose 'seul desir' it is to be of use and valued (The Outsider) and then there is the wife whose "seul desir" is to create like the men around her (The Artist/The Spider). The men are allegorical as well, but damned to more mundane things like placing the order and painting the original designs. This is my 5th Chevalier and I enjoyed it immensely, even if I had a hard time placing myself in 1490 due to the lack of concrete historical descriptions from that time. I liked this one more than "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" btw. It's much tighter in its symbolism and relevance to the theme. The virulently negative responses by other (female) readers to the sexuality in the novel surprised me, though. Personally, I found nothing offensive in the novel, but that it was just one of the many manifestations of desire: the theme of the novel. 5 Stars

  11. 4 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    Everyone was kind of an idiot in this one. We have the stuck up nobleman who thinks he is all that. We have the artist who thinks he is god's gift to women. Ugh, what an ass. I wanted to slap him. The nobleman's stupid daughter, God, what an idiot. Then we moved on to Brussels to see the tapestry being made. Ok, that family was better. The daughter was better, but still, oh girl. I think the only sane person was the maid for the rich family. Sure she made mistakes too, but, I understood her. But the b Everyone was kind of an idiot in this one. We have the stuck up nobleman who thinks he is all that. We have the artist who thinks he is god's gift to women. Ugh, what an ass. I wanted to slap him. The nobleman's stupid daughter, God, what an idiot. Then we moved on to Brussels to see the tapestry being made. Ok, that family was better. The daughter was better, but still, oh girl. I think the only sane person was the maid for the rich family. Sure she made mistakes too, but, I understood her. But the book was good. Nice setting, even if I wish that stupid artist had not been it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah B.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I wanted to give this book 1½ stars, but rounded down to 1. I disliked the main character, the tapestry painter Nicolas des Innocents, by page 10, but I assumed that the author would have him grow and change as a person by the end of the book -- presumably through the process of creating the remarkable tapestries that inspired the novel. Sure, it's an obvious and almost cliché plot, but I don't need a crazy original plot in order to enjoy a book. Disappointed! He is still a pig at the end of the I wanted to give this book 1½ stars, but rounded down to 1. I disliked the main character, the tapestry painter Nicolas des Innocents, by page 10, but I assumed that the author would have him grow and change as a person by the end of the book -- presumably through the process of creating the remarkable tapestries that inspired the novel. Sure, it's an obvious and almost cliché plot, but I don't need a crazy original plot in order to enjoy a book. Disappointed! He is still a pig at the end of the story (that's my spoiler, btw). There are two young women in the book: Claude, who is the daughter of the nobleman who commissioned the titular tapestries, and who is grumpy and horny and apparently would rather fool around with the slimy Nicolas des Innocents than have any worthwhile future; and Aliénor, the blind weaver's daughter, who is going to be married off to a disgusting brute whose smell literally makes her gag. Both of them have fathers who don't care about them or undervalue them, and mothers who basically care more about their virginity than their happiness. I know life was very bad for women in the 15th century. But when I pick up a book set in that time, I expect the author to have worked around that problem and given me some way to live with the disgusting attitudes and expectations that the characters face. Again, I was disappointed here. This passage, in which the Claude's mother Geneviève de Nanterre has just discovered that Claude has been fooling around with the despicable Nicolas, gives you all you need to know about the inner life of the women in this book: I gritted my teeth. Claude knows only too well how valuable her maidenhead is to the Le Vistes -- she must be intact for a worthy man to marry her. Her husband will inherit the Le Viste wealth one day, if not the name. The house on the rue du Four, the Château d'Arcy, the furniture, the jewels, even the tapestries Jean is having made -- all will go to Claude's husband. Jean will have chosen him carefully, and the husband in turn will expect Claude to be pious, respectful, admired, and a virgin, of course. If her father had caught her...I shivered. Of course it would be anachronistic for Chevalier to have written women who could be self-aware or expect anything other than the treatment they got, but to reduce the whole plot to the worst aspects of their lives -- not just their subjugation to men or the reduction of their value to just whether or not they are pure, but also the ruination of unwanted pregnancy and complete lack of education other than religious study -- was just depressing. And it wasn't enlightening-depressing, like My Jim: A Novel, because it was bodice-rippy enough that I think we were supposed to be titillated and amused by all the bawdiness even as it ruined or threatened to ruin almost every female character in the novel. And contrasting the oppressive atmosphere that controlled literally every moment of Claude's life was the gallingly self-centred Nicolas, who waltzed through the novel with complete liberty, consuming women for his own pleasure and then leaving them (and their children) behind once they have served his purpose. Wow, I really hated this book! Forget the half star, this was just a 1.

  13. 5 out of 5

    H.A. Leuschel

    I've always wondered about the intricate process of creating a tapestry and in this book I felt like the author had taken me by the hand and patiently brought the creation of six tapestries to life for me, drawing me into the world of fifteen's century Paris and Brussels. Artists, cartoonists, dyers, weavers, seamstresses and financiers were all involved in the creation, months of preparations and planning were followed by months of weaving. In among this interesting setting, we're introduced to I've always wondered about the intricate process of creating a tapestry and in this book I felt like the author had taken me by the hand and patiently brought the creation of six tapestries to life for me, drawing me into the world of fifteen's century Paris and Brussels. Artists, cartoonists, dyers, weavers, seamstresses and financiers were all involved in the creation, months of preparations and planning were followed by months of weaving. In among this interesting setting, we're introduced to a myriad of characters brought together for the realization of these pieces of art. I had to laugh out loud when I came across this paragraph : 'He is a boaster that Paris artist. I have not been to Paris ... but I've met enough Paris men to know that I wouldn't like it there. They are too sure of their ways. Always they know best - they have the best wine, the best shoes, the best cloth, the best brushes, the best ways of making paint. Their women bear more children, their hens more eggs ... their churches are taller, their ships faster, their roads smoother.' The rivalry between Paris and Brussels was still apparent when I grew up in the Belgian capital so reading those lines made me shake my head in disbelief that these competitive streaks started sometime in the past, hundreds of years ago. But the legacy of tapestries bind them together, their contributions equal and the result often stunning and impressive.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    3.5 stars. I really liked the description of the weaving process of the Flemish tapestries, starting with the drawings, the daily lives of artisans and nobles, and to imagine life in Brussels at that time. I kept this book so I could read it while visiting the city and it was great to visit some of the places described in it. This being said, I would have liked the book to have more historical information and less romance, which at times even seemed a bit cheesy...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    This book reminded me of why I typically try to have as few preconceptions about novels as possible -- I avoid the summaries on the inside flap/back cover, rarely read reviews past the first few lines, and never examine cover art too closely. Otherwise, I start forming expectations of plot lines, style, and tone for the book, and usually end up (perhaps unfairly) disappointed when the book doesn't measure up. All that to say, I've seen the tapestries on which this book is based, and I was really This book reminded me of why I typically try to have as few preconceptions about novels as possible -- I avoid the summaries on the inside flap/back cover, rarely read reviews past the first few lines, and never examine cover art too closely. Otherwise, I start forming expectations of plot lines, style, and tone for the book, and usually end up (perhaps unfairly) disappointed when the book doesn't measure up. All that to say, I've seen the tapestries on which this book is based, and I was really hoping for a better story than Chevalier has given them. I got to spend quite a while in the tapestries' special room in the Musée national de Moyen Age, and between the moody archival lighting, the exhibit design, and the impressive presence of the tapestries themselves, I left with a strong sense that these were artifacts of consequence. So, to have much of the story boil down to, "Well, there's this artist, and he really wants to get into some ladies' pants. . ." was frustrating. I would have much preferred to read more about the mechanics of weaving, the symbolism of the tapestries, and the politics and economics of creating a work of art like this. The story actually had all of these elements, but the characters felt silly and shallow, and I just didn't care if the fictional cartoonist got to sleep with any of the women he chased, or if the weaver's blind daughter ended up marrying the smelly woad-dyer. I certainly see the appeal in taking something as grand as these tapestries and giving them a frivolous backstory, but since I'd already been won over to the Fuck Yeah, Tapestries! team, I was simply not in the mood for it this time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The story of The Lady and the Unicorn is quite interesting: according to the author they were rediscovered by Prosper Merimee in 1841 and he found them in poor condition. Georges Sand became their champion, writing about them in articles, novels and her journal. In 1992 the French government bought the tapestries for the Musee de Cluny in Paris - where they still hang, restored and in a specially appointed room. I didn't enjoy this book as much as The Girl with a Pearl Earring. And certainly Chri The story of The Lady and the Unicorn is quite interesting: according to the author they were rediscovered by Prosper Merimee in 1841 and he found them in poor condition. Georges Sand became their champion, writing about them in articles, novels and her journal. In 1992 the French government bought the tapestries for the Musee de Cluny in Paris - where they still hang, restored and in a specially appointed room. I didn't enjoy this book as much as The Girl with a Pearl Earring. And certainly Chrissie wont like this kind of book also. The "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestry at the Cluny Museum in Paris

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    In this book the writer returns to the very successful recipe of Girl with a Pearl Earring and writes a fantastic story about the creation of a well-known artwork. The execution of the recipe is quite different, as many different situations are woven in the story and the narrative is from different angles, but the result is just as positive, although I certainly prefer the first. The book is distinguished for the same virtues, with the author showing us in a very nice way the life at that era an In this book the writer returns to the very successful recipe of Girl with a Pearl Earring and writes a fantastic story about the creation of a well-known artwork. The execution of the recipe is quite different, as many different situations are woven in the story and the narrative is from different angles, but the result is just as positive, although I certainly prefer the first. The book is distinguished for the same virtues, with the author showing us in a very nice way the life at that era and puts us in the textile world, in the same way he put us before in the world of painting. Love plays a particularly important role in a quite different way, however, with sensuality being more intense, which also gives the writer the opportunity to talk about the sexual morals of the time. With these elements, we have an interesting history that has humour and sensitivity and is full of the joy of creation and the optimism that the very existence of art can bring. Σε αυτό το βιβλίο η συγγραφέας επιστρέφει στη συνταγή του πολύ επιτυχημένου Girl with a Pearl Earring και γράφει μία φανταστική ιστορία γύρω από τη δημιουργία ενός γνωστού έργου τέχνης. Η εκτέλεση της συνταγής είναι βέβαια αρκετά διαφορετική καθώς μέσα στην ιστορία υφαίνονται πολλές διαφορετικές καταστάσεις και η αφήγηση γίνεται μέσα από διαφορετικές οπτικές γωνίες, το αποτέλεσμα, όμως, είναι εξίσου θετικό αν και σίγουρα προτιμώ πολύ περισσότερο το πρώτο. Το βιβλίο διακρίνεται για τις ίδιες αρετές, με τη συγγραφέα να μας δείχνει με έναν πολύ ωραίο τρόπο τη ζωή σε εκείνη την εποχή και μας βάζει στον κόσμο της υφαντουργίας, με τον ίδιο τρόπο που μας έβαλε πριν στον κόσμο της ζωγραφικής. Ο έρωτας παίζει ιδιαίτερα σημαντικό ρόλο με έναν αρκετά διαφορετικό τρόπο, όμως, με τον αισθησιασμό να είναι περισσότερο έντονος, κάτι που δίνει και την ευκαιρία στη συγγραφέα να μιλήσει για τα σεξουαλικά ήθη της εποχής. Με αυτά τα στοιχεία έχουμε μπροστά μας μία ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία που διαθέτει χιούμορ μα και ευαισθησία και είναι γεμάτη από τη χαρά της δημιουργίας και την αισιοδοξία που μπορεί να φέρει η ίδια η ύπαρξη της τέχνης.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This was a reread from many years ago- apart from remembering it was about weavers I didn’t remember much else. I listened to this on audible this time and the narrator was fantastic with a wide range of great voices. It was a 5 star read before and now again with 5 stars for the narrator too. The story is set both in Paris and Brussels where the weaving takes place. The artist commissioned is a regular lothario and sees himself as the rampant unicorn. In part we learn about his love life but wh This was a reread from many years ago- apart from remembering it was about weavers I didn’t remember much else. I listened to this on audible this time and the narrator was fantastic with a wide range of great voices. It was a 5 star read before and now again with 5 stars for the narrator too. The story is set both in Paris and Brussels where the weaving takes place. The artist commissioned is a regular lothario and sees himself as the rampant unicorn. In part we learn about his love life but what is more interesting and fascinating even is learning about the process of creating a beautiful panel of tapestry- the man who supplies blue dye (woad) stinks of piss used in its creation; the length of time it took to make a tapestry (years), the particular function of the cartoonist who must translate the art into something the weavers can understand. A great story for historical fiction lovers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ceilidh

    Incredibly clunky and just flat-out dull. If you've read Girl With a Pearl Earring you can pretty much track where this story's going to go. It's very predictable and the sexual subplots were laughable in places. Sorry, Ms Chevalier, but this was just not worth my time, even for the really lovely scenes describing the tapestries (and those tapestries are amazing. Seriously, google them). Incredibly clunky and just flat-out dull. If you've read Girl With a Pearl Earring you can pretty much track where this story's going to go. It's very predictable and the sexual subplots were laughable in places. Sorry, Ms Chevalier, but this was just not worth my time, even for the really lovely scenes describing the tapestries (and those tapestries are amazing. Seriously, google them).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Tracy Chevalier The Lady and the Unicorn New York: Penguin, 2004 250 pp. $23.95 0-525-94767-1 “The Lady and the Unicorn,” written by Tracy Chevalier, is a historical fiction novel about medieval French tapestries which depict a woman seducing a unicorn. Although not much is known about the tapestries, Tracy Chevalier has written an excellent love story based on the few known facts. Jean Le Viste, a French nobleman, commissions a Parisian painter, Nicolas des Innocents, to create a set of six tapestri Tracy Chevalier The Lady and the Unicorn New York: Penguin, 2004 250 pp. $23.95 0-525-94767-1 “The Lady and the Unicorn,” written by Tracy Chevalier, is a historical fiction novel about medieval French tapestries which depict a woman seducing a unicorn. Although not much is known about the tapestries, Tracy Chevalier has written an excellent love story based on the few known facts. Jean Le Viste, a French nobleman, commissions a Parisian painter, Nicolas des Innocents, to create a set of six tapestries. Set in France, the story travels between Paris and Brussels, where the tapestries are being weaved. Meanwhile Nicolas becomes caught between three women, yet the one he loves most is Claude, the daughter of Jean Le Viste. However they are separated by society, prohibited to even walk on the same side of the street together. Because of pressures from family, Claude undergoes an emotional transformation throughout the novel. Being the first born, Claude plays a crucial role in securing the Le Viste name around the Court. Jean Le Viste was not born to noble status, rather he earned his way in. To maintain the family name Claude must marry into another royal family, causing her parents to shelter her from ineligible men. Nicolas des Innocents is popular with the ladies and becomes very fond of Claude during several encounters at the Le Viste household. When Jean Le Viste’s wife, Genevieve De Nanterre, sees that Claude has fallen in love with Nicolas, she does everything in her power to isolate them from each other. She states, “Claude knows only too well how valuable her maidenhead is to the Le Vistes-she must be intact for a worthy man to marry her” (Chevalier 56). But to ensure Claude will not lose her maidenhead, Genevieve De Nanterre banishes Claude to the convent until she is to become betrothed. While at the convent Claude spends numerous months in solidarity, reflecting on her love for Nicolas. There she lives modestly, sleeping on a straw mattress surely not fit for a queen. Though joining the convent is truly her mother’s dream, not Claude’s. Genevieve De Nanterre thinks, “It would be a mercy to let me enter a convent” (51). Genevieve dreams of entering the convent someday, and to be free from her loveless marriage. When Claude is welcomed back home for her engagement party, she stubbles upon Nicolas. Nonetheless he has already noticed she is not the same person she used to be, recalling, “Her eyes were still like quinces but they were not as lively as they had been” (239). Claude’s stay at the convent had mellowed her soul and all enthusiasm had been lost. “The Lady and the Unicorn” is an exciting tale of secret love. Chevalier does an exceptional job combining French vocabulary, French culture, and imagery to portray a reliable account of what might have been during the time period. The emotional changes Claude faces during the story sheds light on pressures felt from family and society and the different standards noblewomen are held to.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Here is another cleverly written historical novel about a great piece of art by the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring. This time it's the making of the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. Not much is known about them in reality. They appear to have been made sometime at the end of the 15th century in Flanders and are thought to have been commissioned by a member of the La Viste family. There are six in all and they tell a story of taming the unicorn by a series of noblewomen. They also rep Here is another cleverly written historical novel about a great piece of art by the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring. This time it's the making of the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. Not much is known about them in reality. They appear to have been made sometime at the end of the 15th century in Flanders and are thought to have been commissioned by a member of the La Viste family. There are six in all and they tell a story of taming the unicorn by a series of noblewomen. They also represent the senses. These are some of the most beautiful of medieval tapestries and were almost lost to history. They were re-discovered in the mid 19th century, were finally restored and now hang in the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Tracy Chevalier has written another intricate fictional story around this artwork. She introduces us to Nicholaus de Innocentes, the artist who is a great seducer of women yet seems to have an appreciation for them also. He is commisioned to make the original painting. When he becomes enamored of Lord La Viste's daughter he winds up using her face for one of the panels. He also uses several other faces of women he meets for the other panels and there is a story behind each one. The Lord's wife, the weaver's wife, and his daughter all wind up in the famous tapestries. Each character has a story to tell and a reaction to these tapestries. We will probably never know how or why these beautiful things were actually created, but Tracy Chevalier has given us a thoughtful and pleasant tale to think about. It is also an interesting look in the craft of medieval weaving itself.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Jean Le Viste commissions painter Nicholas des Innocents to design six tapestries that will be hung in a grand hall within his magnificent Paris home. Jean is a conniving, deviously ambitious nobleman with a depressed wife and three daughters. The oldest daughter, Claude is beautiful and falls head over heals for Nicholas. Of course, this love is not meant to be, as Claude is nobility and Nicholas is just a mere painter, not to mention a womanizer and scoundrel, yet he is deliciously appealing. Jean Le Viste commissions painter Nicholas des Innocents to design six tapestries that will be hung in a grand hall within his magnificent Paris home. Jean is a conniving, deviously ambitious nobleman with a depressed wife and three daughters. The oldest daughter, Claude is beautiful and falls head over heals for Nicholas. Of course, this love is not meant to be, as Claude is nobility and Nicholas is just a mere painter, not to mention a womanizer and scoundrel, yet he is deliciously appealing. Nicolas designs six tapestries which depict a series of six ladies, each contributing to the seduction of a unicorn. The senses, touch, sense, sight, hearing, and taste are portrayed in the first five, while the sixth depicts love. The unicorn is in a quandary of sorts. Nicolas is sent to Brussels to oversee the weaving of his designs, and in doing so, helps a blind young woman, Alienor, change the course of her life. All five of the women in the designs are based on women he has loved, despised, admired or bedded. The tapestries, he comes to realize, tell his life’s story…..The ladies are, indeed, seducing this unicorn. Through irony and deception, Nicholas’ actions are threaded together, by his ladies, to a conclusion that is unexpected and unfulfilling for Nicholas. Today, the six authentic 15th century tapestries hang in Paris’ Museum of the Middle Ages. Although not much is known of the family who actually commissioned them, Chevalier brings history to life with timely characters, and colorful, sensual prose. The reader’s senses are heightened as the story is woven within the tapestries, each one capturing the lives of a painter, weaver, or nobleman and their families

  23. 5 out of 5

    Yana

    A set of medievel tapestries hang today in a chamber in Paris,portaying a women's seduction of a unicorn. The story behind the tapestry is unknown, but Tracy Chevalier weaves fact and fiction to help us unfold the story with her book,"The Lady and the Unicorn". The story takes place in 1490, Paris about a French nobleman who commisions six tapestries to be made, celebrating his rising status in court. He hires Nicolas des Innocents to design them, but Nicolas adds his own twist to the work and A set of medievel tapestries hang today in a chamber in Paris,portaying a women's seduction of a unicorn. The story behind the tapestry is unknown, but Tracy Chevalier weaves fact and fiction to help us unfold the story with her book,"The Lady and the Unicorn". The story takes place in 1490, Paris about a French nobleman who commisions six tapestries to be made, celebrating his rising status in court. He hires Nicolas des Innocents to design them, but Nicolas adds his own twist to the work and instead of making tapestries of war,he makes tapestries of the women in the house. A lot of drama breaks out among the women in the house and many scandols are commited.Relationships between friends and family members are tested to the limit. I really enjoyed reading this book, because of the way it was written. Every chapter of the book was a perspective of a different character,you got to know what each character was thinking. I enjoyed this book, because it opened my eyes to a new world, or should i say old. I really recommend this book to people who like historical fiction or just history. You can look up further information on these tapestries any where online.I know that there is still a lot you can learn from after reading this book and exploring the web about the bewitching medievel tapestries.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jean Marie

    Sometimes it's those little books that you find on the discount shelf for $2 that are the best. I really didn't know what I was getting myself into with this book, I had never heard of these tapestries before I read the book. The books mixes the fiction and the history incredibly well so well that I found myself looking up the names to see if they were purely fiction or had actually lived. The main character, aside from the tapestries themselves, Nicolas de Innocents is the painter of the origin Sometimes it's those little books that you find on the discount shelf for $2 that are the best. I really didn't know what I was getting myself into with this book, I had never heard of these tapestries before I read the book. The books mixes the fiction and the history incredibly well so well that I found myself looking up the names to see if they were purely fiction or had actually lived. The main character, aside from the tapestries themselves, Nicolas de Innocents is the painter of the original pieces that the tapestries will be made from and the book follows his escapades from Paris and his almost romance with the man who's commissioning the tapestries daughter and then in Brussels to the daughter of the weaver of the tapesteries. It's a bouncing narrative which changes from chapter to chapter but this is one of those books in which the transistions are done so incredibly well. And this story that Chevalier that builds around these pieces of art will definitely make you look at the tapestries differently. Beautiful novel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Cihodariu

    You can tell from the first few pages that the author really did her homework on the history of tapestries. Everything is very well-documented, from how exactly a tapestry was made to the usual way a Belgian workshop was organized and run. (The best medieval workshops for tapestries were in Belgium). It's lovely that Tracy Chevalier thought of a way to explain the famous unicorn tapestries in Cluny and how they came to be. Her knowledge of the art world in Paris and how everything was commissione You can tell from the first few pages that the author really did her homework on the history of tapestries. Everything is very well-documented, from how exactly a tapestry was made to the usual way a Belgian workshop was organized and run. (The best medieval workshops for tapestries were in Belgium). It's lovely that Tracy Chevalier thought of a way to explain the famous unicorn tapestries in Cluny and how they came to be. Her knowledge of the art world in Paris and how everything was commissioned is also impressive. I also appreciated a sense of realism regarding the characters and their relations. The motif of the lady and the unicorn may be one of the most poetic themes in the world, but most of the times the characters in the book are decidedly prosaic. The only thing I could wish for more was that the ending was less neatly rounded off (the final twist was a bit unnecessary, in my opinion).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    I have never quite clicked with Tracy Chevalier. Her subject matter is always attractive to me but the writing I find stiff; it's as if I can't quite get close enough to 'see'....whatever I am missing. So I never quite get involved in her story. My experience of this book followed the same pattern. I have never quite clicked with Tracy Chevalier. Her subject matter is always attractive to me but the writing I find stiff; it's as if I can't quite get close enough to 'see'....whatever I am missing. So I never quite get involved in her story. My experience of this book followed the same pattern.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The Lady and The Unicorn Parts of this book were interesting and parts were not. I had hoped to love this novel more than I did, based upon my recollection of The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Some of the characters were frivolous and not critical at all to the plot. I saw no redeeming value in the descriptions of the sexual exploits of Nicholas des Innocents, the artist behind the concept of the tapestries that tell the tale of The Lady and The Unicorn; of no real consequence to the story was th The Lady and The Unicorn Parts of this book were interesting and parts were not. I had hoped to love this novel more than I did, based upon my recollection of The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Some of the characters were frivolous and not critical at all to the plot. I saw no redeeming value in the descriptions of the sexual exploits of Nicholas des Innocents, the artist behind the concept of the tapestries that tell the tale of The Lady and The Unicorn; of no real consequence to the story was the exasperating behavior of the eldest daughter of the French nobleman who commissioned the creation of the tapestries. The sections of the book that were of the most interest to me were the descriptions of the Belgian family who created the tapestries: from the design cartoons that guided their work, the way they set up and used the looms, the importance of the guilds in setting the standards (and enforcing them) for their craft, the way they lived among the looms and threads used in their work. So to me, about half of the book was interesting and worthwhile, and about half was superfluous and unnecessary. But overall, I enjoyed the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book has been on my TBR for a while and the synopsis intrigued me. But I actually chose to read it, due to Decades Bingo, as it is a 2003 publish. I give it about 3.5 stars, and I enjoyed it. It had an interesting structure, as the story moves through 7 or 8 points of view as it is being told. I found that interesting. The story of course is of a series of six tapestries in the house of Jean Le Viste, that depict the story of The Lady and the Unicorn, which is a story of seduction. This boo This book has been on my TBR for a while and the synopsis intrigued me. But I actually chose to read it, due to Decades Bingo, as it is a 2003 publish. I give it about 3.5 stars, and I enjoyed it. It had an interesting structure, as the story moves through 7 or 8 points of view as it is being told. I found that interesting. The story of course is of a series of six tapestries in the house of Jean Le Viste, that depict the story of The Lady and the Unicorn, which is a story of seduction. This book is the story of what might have happened to both inspire the series, as well as during its development and manufacture. And of course, these ladies have to deal with power and seduction during the course of the project and the book. I thought it was well done. It was different and I enjoyed it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    Oh! What a Tale She Weaves 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 char Oh! What a Tale She Weaves 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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book is a mesmerizing magic trick! It's like you're watching a shell game and trying to track all of the cups in rotation. Except the cups are couplings. Also, you find out very early that 'unicorn' is a euphemism for penis. Saucy! This book is a mesmerizing magic trick! It's like you're watching a shell game and trying to track all of the cups in rotation. Except the cups are couplings. Also, you find out very early that 'unicorn' is a euphemism for penis. Saucy!

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