Pamela's Reviews > The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
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bookshelves: historical-fiction

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.
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Reading Progress

July 13, 2015 – Shelved
July 13, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
October 17, 2018 – Started Reading
October 17, 2018 –
page 93
October 18, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
October 18, 2018 – Finished Reading

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