L.A.L.'s Reviews > The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
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bookshelves: backpackeurope, fiction, history

The Lady and the Unicorn is a historical fiction creation about the famed the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries. The story bounces from Paris to Brussels, all centered on the design and creation of these tapestries, and has seven different narrators. I chose to read it for my Belgium book for #BackpackEurope since about half of it is set in Brussels.

Like her book Girl with a Pearl Earring, this one is also based on actual art. The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are currently housed at the Musee national du Moyen-Age (Musee Cluny) in Paris. The basis for the story is that there little is known about who had the tapestries made, and less known about the designer or weaver(s). The details about process of designing and and weaving a tapestry are the strongest parts of the book. It is clear the author did a good bit of research.

The book also does an okay job of explaining the the cultural and social norms of the times. She gets a bit into the artist guilds and how the guilds controlled much of the art of the time. She spends a bit more time on relationship of women to men and nobles to artists to commoners. But while she touches on these, she really only ever skims the surface, keeping to shallow explanation only as need to explain certain aspects of the story.

It is the lack of depth that keeps this book from being a stronger read. First there are seven narrators. That's right, 7 different points of view. When done right, this can work well, but it's a tricky thing to do. Here, not so much. There was little difference between each of the voices—they all kind of ran together. Of course, part of this stemmed from the lack of depth. While some characters had hints of interesting backstories, particularly the two mothers (Christine and Genevieve), none of the characters were developed enough. They all were rather flat and lifeless, or in the case of Nicolas, a boring caricature with one focus.

Sex (or as she referred to it, "plowing" or losing one's "maidenhead") played a bit too heavily into this story for my taste. It seemed that's all the narrators were really focused on, to the point it became blase. Sexual trysts, again when done well, might add something to a story. But here, it seemed everyone was just plain randy all the time. It got a bit old, especially with Nicolas.

The upside was it was a rather easy read and did keep me moderately entertained. 3 stars for entertainment.
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Reading Progress

August 10, 2018 – Started Reading
August 10, 2018 – Shelved
August 10, 2018 –
page 64
August 13, 2018 – Shelved as: backpackeurope
August 13, 2018 – Shelved as: fiction
August 13, 2018 – Shelved as: history
August 13, 2018 – Finished Reading

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