Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
A reasonable read
on 23 March 2009
To be honest, not one of Tracy Chevalier's best but despite not being that keen tapestries, I was still expecting to be entertained. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. But I was educated. The book is packed with spot-on details of the period, the author's trademark. I was less enamoured with the character of the tapestries' designer. Not that he wasn't well written, he was, but it's my understanding that a book's 'baddie' should have some redeeming feature to ensure a touch of reader-sympathy in order to keep the reader reading. Well, I didn't stop reading but I disliked the antihero more and more as the tale progressed. No loveable rogue he! It is mainly because of this man's actions, and those of others in the artistic chain, which have such an effect on the lives of several young girls and one weaver's family.
The story of a nobleman's need for public acknowledgement leads to his commissioning several pieces of needlework detailing his status at court. It is the the hard, unfair lives of those appointed to carry out this indulgency which forms the basis of this book. Almost erotic in parts (a bit of a surprise that), its historical facts are as seamlessly presented as ever. (see above) And in this case, knowing that the tapestries in question are real does add an extra layer of interest and speculation. Fortunately, there's a reasonable conclusion - and that's not telling tales - but I so wanted to sort out that 'baddie' right from his first appearance that it coloured my perspective throughout.
I read this quickly because I semi disliked it, but as Tracy Chevalier is incapable of writing badly, I knew it would be a good story and ultimately, it was. Still is.