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The Lady and the Unicorn Hardcover – 1 Sep 2003

3.9 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Sep 2003
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (1 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007140908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007140909
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,443,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

If you think you wouldn't raise your skirts for a rakish legend about the purifying powers of a unicorn's horn, then maybe you aren't a 15th-century serving girl under the sway of a velvet-tongued court painter of ill repute. In keeping with her bestselling Girl with a Pearl Earring, and its Edwardian-era follow-up, Falling Angels, Tracy Chevalier's tale of artistic creation and late-medieval amours, The Lady and the Unicorn is a subtle study in social power and the conflicts between love and duty. Nicolas des Innocents has been commissioned by the Parisian nobleman Jean Le Viste to design a series of large tapestries for his great hall (in real life, the famous Lady and the Unicorn cycle, now in Paris's Musee National du Moyen-Age Thermes de Cluny). While Nicolas is measuring the walls, he meets a beautiful girl who turns out to be Jean Le Viste's daughter. Their passion is impossible for their world--so forbidden, given their class differences, that its only avenue of expression turns out to be those magnificent tapestries. The historical evidence on which this story is based is slight enough to allow the full play of Chevalier's imagination in this cleverly woven tale. --Regina Marler, Amazon.com

Review

'Tracy Chevalier gives the kiss of life to the historical novel.' Independent

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Tracy Chevalier is a brilliant storyteller. In The Lady and the Unicorn, just as in Girl with a Pearl Earing, she uses a real work of art as the basis for a fictional story. We are presented with the contrasting home life of a family of tapestry weavers (poor but cheerful and busy) and the Le Vistes in their castle (wealthy but depressed and tedious). You might think the plot sounds fairly twee and predictable, but in fact the story is absorbing. Nicolas is a rogue but I liked him anyway, if only for bringing excitement, repressed though it may be in some cases, into the lives of the women. The oppression of the richer women was striking.
Chevalier's powers of description are superb - she makes it possible for her reader to step back in time. Although the book is set in medieval times, the historical detail is not too overwhelming. The story unfolds at a gentle pace, making it a relaxing read.
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Format: Hardcover
Looks like Tracy Chevalier's done it again.
This is the story of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries in the Cluny museum in Paris. Like in Girl with a Pearl Earring, Chevalier has chosen a real work of art about which rather little is actually known, and woven a tale about what might have been the circumstances under which it was commissioned and created.
In Lady and the Unicorn, we enter into the world of 15th century Paris and Brussels but this is no boring history lesson. This story is full of jealousy and intrigue, passion and sex even. I'll certainly never look at blue tapestries in the same way - I could practically smell the reeking woad-dyer.
For me, this book is as successful as Girl With a Pearl Earring and more deftly told than Falling Angels. The voices are clearer and frankly, it's a happier read. I also found it more coherent than The Virgin Blue because it's all set in the same period and doesn't dot around between its historical setting and the modern day.
This really is a brilliant piece of writing. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
A wonderful book. Having only read 'The Virgin Blue' (which I adored) this was very different and will certainly have me racing out for her other books. Speaking of racing, this book will certaily do that to your heart rate! It's sauciness at it's best. Nicolas des Innocents is certainly not what his name suggests; he is a fifteenth century naughty boy! As a Parisian painter of portraits he is bewildered when he is asked to design some tapestries for Jean Le Viste (a nobleman close to the King).

One look at Le Viste's daughter Claude and he is in love, big style. They are almost caught in the act and because of this he (and she) are kept under close watch. He is dragged into the families unsettled relationships and lives. We then meet the actual weaver and his family during Nicolas' journeys to Brussells. He acts out his desires a few times more there with the resulting consequences not quite being what you expect. During the time it takes to make the tapestries we know a lot about all of the characters from themselves.

Wonderful prose, made all the better with each chapter being picked up by another character. A trait I don't always enjoy but it really worked in this novel. The description and feelings Chevalier evokes are a pleasure and this book should be a fabulous journey with a satisfying ending.

The tapestries described are gorgeous, made more so at the hands of Chevalier. It is a heady mix of art, history and fiction. Chevalier has made it as accurately possible with the facts available to her but admits that some parts have had to be changed in the interests of fiction namely because all of the details weren't available to her. I don't feel it matters as you still get the essence of how devine tapestries like this would be. It is testiment to her imagination that we get to see the story behind a set of them.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this novel on my vacation in Paris and on the day I finished it I went to the Cluny Museum to see the Tapestries for myself. I'd seen them ten years ago, but seeing them again, after reading Tracy's book brought them to life in a way that was utterly magical.
As she did with The Girl With the Pearl Earring, (but even better this time since she has matured as a writer) the author takes a classic work of art and artfully spins a tale inspired by the original which becomes an original itself.
That the actual art work exists adds to the magic. The magic adds to the actual art work.
Tracy's imagination, her grasp of history, her attention to the senses, to details, to the soul of both artists artisans and lovers are all as lovely and artful as the tapestries,
Not a stich is missing, not a word is extraneous or misplaced. Bravo.
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Format: Hardcover
I found Chevalier's latest novel, set in mediaeval Paris and Belgium, absolutely outstanding. She has managed to create strong characters with whom I can really empathise and yet who are completely of the period. The story is set around the weaving of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries - a thrilling and moving story of love and intrigue. I overshot my train stop one of the days that I was reading it which is always a good sign. I can't belive I'm saying it, but I really think this is even better than Girl with a Pearl Earring.
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