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The Lady and the Unicorn

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  30,354 ratings  ·  1,371 reviews
A tour de force of history and imagination, The Lady and the Unicorn is Tracy Chevalier’s answer to the mystery behind one of the art world’s great masterpieces—a set of bewitching medieval tapestries that hangs today in the Cluny Museum in Paris. They appear to portray the seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown—until now.Paris, 1490. A shrewd ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Plume (first published 2003)
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Marilyn I wouldn't! I'm bailing out after a few chapters. The 14 year old virgin daughter of a nobleman hiding under a table and groping the crotch of the…moreI wouldn't! I'm bailing out after a few chapters. The 14 year old virgin daughter of a nobleman hiding under a table and groping the crotch of the artist (she'd only met for a few minutes) was not only vulgar, it defied belief. Just no. (less)
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Best Historical Fiction
159th out of 5,368 books — 20,612 voters
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy ChevalierThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeThe Da Vinci Code by Dan BrownThe Birth of Venus by Sarah DunantThe Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
Art & Artists in Fiction
5th out of 466 books — 766 voters

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Community Reviews

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Fascinating subject matter, truly terrible writing! It read, at times, like a lousy bodice-ripper romance novel! There were passages that made me cringe and gag over the dialogue and the descriptions of the love scenes. For something written by a female author, I was startled at how shallow the explorations were into the possible thoughts and feelings of the female characters. It was just bad! However, I did enjoy the descriptions of how the tapestries were made, and I eventually got to the end ...more
May 17, 2015 CatarinaG rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Laura Ana T.
Shelves: all, favorites, 2004
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
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
katherine brown
Jul 24, 2007 katherine brown rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who want to waste their time on a terrible book
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.
Helvry Sinaga
Sekumpulan permadani ditemukan pada tahun 1841 oleh Prosper Mérimée, seorang dramawan, sejarawan, dan arkeolog Prancis bersama dengan temannya, George Sand. Mereka menemukannya ketika menginap di Château de Boussac Prancis tengah. Ternyata permadani itu bukan sembarang permadani, itu adalah permadani dari abad pertengahan yang akhirnya membawa kontribusi besar pada sejarah abad pertengahan Prancis.

Siapa sebenarnya perancang atau pembuat permadani ini sebenarnya tidak diketahui. Tracy Chevalier '
I am impressed. I never thought this book would be as lovely as Girl with a Pearl Earring:! 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
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 ...more
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 ...more
Jul 14, 2013 Jan rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: schlock
If I ever read the word maidenhead again in a novel, I will vomit from the flashback of reading this book.
Mia Queen
Ini yang disebut dengan a great historical romance novel!

Buku dengan latar belakang Perancis tahun 1490 bercerita tentang Nicholas yang ditugaskan bangsawan kaya untuk membuat permadani demi merayakan kenaikan pangkatnya. Tidak hanya itu novel ini juga menceritakan sepak terjang pelukis berbakat namun genitnya yang tidak ketulungan dengan berbagai wanita yang ia temui. Mulai dari anak bangsawan yang menyewanya sampai anak gadis tukang tenun permadani.

Uniknya, Lady dan Unicorn diceritakan dari su
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
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
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. ...more
It seems that Tracy Chevalier's writing and moi simply cannot get along. I remember that I disliked Falling Angels but this one is even worse. The characters are annoying, two-dimensional and irritating. I couldn't relate or connect to any of them and my anger reached the boiling point so much that I wished most of them dead.
Now I feel sceptical and I wish to revise Girl With a Pearl Earring because I can't remember what I like about it either, and I read it in the primary school!
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
Tracy Chevalier
The Lady and the Unicorn
New York: Penguin, 2004
250 pp. $23.95
“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
Sarah B.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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).
I liked this one okay. I started to enjoy it more in the second half of the book and that’s what bumped the rating up to 3 stars. The writing wasn’t as beautiful and textured as it was in The Girl With a Pearl Earring, which is one of my all time favorite books. Overall, I thought the writing was flat and felt kind of lifeless. I missed the lush descriptions that made the scenes in Pearl Earring just come alive. I also thought the sexual thread that ran throughout the story lacked the tension th ...more
When I began reading this book, I realized I had read it before, but since it was a good story I read it again. Tracy Chevalier has made a career of writing novels about art. She tells the story of the creation of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries through the voices of multiple characters and mixes in class, sex and pregnancies. Nicolas Des Innocents is a French painter who is commissioned to design the tapestries for Jean Le Viste, a French nobleman. Jean wants a painting of war and horses, b ...more
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
Nancy Brady
A historical novel about the lives of those connected with the Unicorn and Lady tapestries. The designs are iconic and the story behind their creation as well as the families who brought them to life make for compelling reading.
Lucy Pollard-Gott
My rating waffled between three and four, but I admired the carefully crafted plot enough to go with four stars. The novel excels at depicting the societal and personal constraints that every character labored under, as well as their efforts to operate freely at times in spite of them. While I could appreciate their difficult situations, I didn't develop any particular fondness for these characters, except perhaps for Alienor. Philippe de la Tour emerges only near the end as an important and ver ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Terry Calafato
Altro viaggio nel tempo e nell'arte con Tracy Chevalier.

Questo romanzo ha impiegato un po' di tempo a conquistarmi, lo ammetto: fin oltre la metà ero tentata di dare solo 3 stelline, in quanto la storia era interessante, ma sembrava non dovermi lasciare mplto. Ma sul finire mi ha emozionata, devo ammetterlo, recuperando la mia attenzione e il mio interesse.

La struttura e la trama non differiscono molto dal successivo La ragazza con l'orecchino di perla : anche qui la narrazione ruota attorno all
Claudia Sesto
"Gli arazzi sono molto diversi dai dipinti", ho esordito. "Uno che non ci ha mai lavorato non può capirlo. Spesso un pittore pensa che basti semplicemente ingrandire e tessere le figura che ha dipinto, lasciandole così come sono. Ma guardare un arazzo non è come guardare un quadro. Il dipinto di solito è più piccolo, così lo sguardo riesce ad abbracciarlo tutto in una volta. Non ci si deve avvicinare troppo, basta rimanere a un paio di passi di distanza, come se ci si trovasse davanti a un prete ...more
The Lady and the Unicorn is the second book I've borrowed for a test drive from author Tracy Chevalier, after seeing her give a fantastic, comfortable yet commanding talk on the inspiration behind her novels at the Brisbane Writer's Festival earlier this year (the first book I delved into was Remarkable Creatures - you can find my review HERE).

The Lady and the Unicorn, despite my initial reservations cultivated by some earlier disappointed reviewers, did not disappoint me.

I found it to be an el
Jane Greensmith
I really enjoyed Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring a few years ago, so when I spied her The Lady and the Unicorn in the audio book section of the library a few weeks ago, I grabbed it. I've had the novel languishing on the TBR shelf for years now, but this seemed like a perfect book for the car...and gym. Now that I've started treading the mill twice a week, my book consumption should skyrocket!

Back to The Lady and the Unicorn. It was great. I particularly enjoyed the different voices
Jacquelynn Luben
When I read Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, I felt that she was building up the story, as an artist adds paint to the canvas, and similarly The Lady and the Unicorn seemed crafted, each chapter created like the tapestries described in the story, and carefully joined together.

Each tapestry represents one of the senses, and (according to the story), each of the women who appears with a lion and a unicorn on either side of her is a different one that Nicolas, the artist, comes in cont
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19 October 1962 in Washington, DC. Youngest of 3 children. Father was a photographer for The Washington Post.

Nerdy. Spent a lot of time lying on my bed reading. Favorite authors back then: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeleine L’Engle, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander. Book I would have taken to a desert island: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

More about Tracy Chevalier...
Girl With a Pearl Earring Remarkable Creatures The Virgin Blue The Last Runaway Falling Angels

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“I didn't move. I've learned from years of experience that dogs and falcons and ladies come back to you if you stay where you are.” 8 likes
“Warp threads are thicker than the weft, and made of a coarser wool as well. I think of them as like wives. Their work is not obvious - all you can see are the ridges they make under the colorful weft threads. But if they weren't there, there would be no tapestry. Georges would unravel without me.” 4 likes
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