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The Lady and the Unicorn

4.3 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Chivers Audio Books (March 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0754094952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0754094951
  • Shipping Weight: 236 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews
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Product Description

About the Author

Tracy Chevalier lives in Highgate with her husband and young son.

From Booklist

The author of Girl with a Pearl Earring (2000) and Falling Angels (2001) offers a luminous tale about a set of medieval tapestries known as the Lady and the Unicorn sequence. Nicolas des Innocents, a handsome, lascivious artist, is summoned to the home of Jean Le Viste, a nobleman who wants Nicolas to design a series of battle tapestries. Jean's wife, Genevieve, persuades Nicolas to talk her husband into a softer subject: the beguilement of a unicorn by a noblewoman. Nicolas shapes the tapestries with his own vision, dedicating five of the six to the senses and using the images of Genevieve and her daughter, Claude, with whom Nicolas is smitten, for the ladies. After finishing the paintings, Nicolas travels from Paris to Brussels, where Georges de la Chapelle will weave them. At first Nicolas is standoffish and scornful of Georges but gradually comes to respect him and take an interest in his blind daughter. But Nicolas' heart lies with the unattainable Claude. Chevalier meticulously describes the complex process of creating a tapestry, from its conception to the moment it is pulled off the loom. The story she weaves is as lush as the tapestries she describes, and her colorful characters leap off the page. A romantic, beautiful book. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A series of six tapestries depicting a lady seducing a unicorn now hang in the Musee National du Moyen Age in Paris. Although these tapestries --- created in the late fifteenth century --- are some of the most famous in the world, very little is known about their creation or their history. Tracy Chevalier, the novelist best known for writing the perennial book club favorite (and new feature film) GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, has used her rich imagination to weave together romance, humor and art history in THE LADY AND THE UNICORN.
Chevalier starts with one of the few facts that is actually known about the tapestries: they were created for the nobleman Jean Le Viste, whose family coat of arms features prominently in their design. In Chevalier's portrayal, Le Viste is a power-hungry nobleman with close ties to the king. He wants tapestries depicting the glories of war, but the artist, Nicolas des Innocents --- who specializes in portraits of noblewomen --- convinces Le Viste that a series of tapestries about courtly love will still bring glory to the Le Viste name.
Nicolas himself is a womanizer --- the novel opens from his point of view, and we quickly learn that his amorous sights are set on Le Viste's teenage daughter, Claude. Much to the reader's surprise (and delight), when Claude narrates the next section of the novel we learn that she is just as lustful as Nicolas, and her prose just as bawdy. Needless to say, when Claude's family discovers their flirtation, her mother (who wants to be a nun) must concoct a plan to keep the would-be lovers apart. Claude is banished to a convent and Nicolas is sent to Brussels to supervise the weaving of the tapestries there.
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Format: Paperback
I read THE LADY AND THE UNICORN in one sitting, on a plane ride to Europe, and couldn't put it down. History has always fascinated me, and the story of Claude, nobleman's daughter. I found it amazing how Tracy Chevalier was able to take one tapestry and create an entire story about it. She builds upon what is already known to create a piece of fiction that seems almost real unto itself. I always marvel at Chevalier's works, as her language is descriptive to a fault, and doesn't assume an air of modernity which can be found in many historical novels written in the present time. I thought this was a well crafted book, the way McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD is, or perhaps the novel GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING. The writing is first-rate and right on the money. Do yourself a favor and buy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a really well-written, beautifully descriptive, accurate, and exciting novel. Don't be put off by the fact that it's about a tapestry, because it's not a technical, boring book. It's all about the people that help create the tapestry.
It takes place in 1490, in Paris, when a nobleman commissions Nicholas des Innocents to draw the designs for a tapestry. Nicholas is a bit of a womanizer; and after realizing on the 2nd page that the maid he slept with last time is pregnant, he turns around and falls in love with the nobleman's daughter, Claude. Claude can't marry him, so she is sent to a convent temporarily while Nicholas goes to Brussels to see the tapestry being made. Nicholas meets the weaver and his family, and falls in love with the weaver's blind daughter, Alienor. Although it sounds like a shallow love story, it is not. Each chapter is written by a different character; of course Nicholas, Claude, and Alienor have their chapters, but the weaver, the nobleman, and Claude's mother all have their own chapters that tell their stories and problems. Since Tracy Chevalier is such a skilled author, the chapters flow very well, even though the character voice shifts. The ending is spectacular; it ties up all of the loose ends very neatly, but doesn't give a cheesy, predictable ending.
The descriptions in the book are gorgeous; you can immediately visualize the setting of late-medieval/early renaissance Europe. They are never too detailed that they slow the plot down. One word of caution: since the descriptions go into so much detail, that means that the love scenes are rather graphic. It seems like a fairly innocent book, but don't be fooled. It's definitely not porn or even close, but there are some scenes that can be a bit shocking if you're not expecting them.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book in one sitting, on a plane ride to Europe, and couldn't put it down. History has always fascinated me, and the story of Claude, nobleman's daughter. I found it amazing how Tracy Chevalier was able to take one tapestry and create an entire story about it. She builds upon what is already known to create a piece of fiction that seems almost real unto itself. I always marvel at Chevalier's works, as her language is descriptive to a fault, and doesn't assume an air of modernity which can be found in many historical novels written in the present time.
Although The Lady and the Unicorn is, indeed, very similar to Chevalier's earlier novels, Falling Angels and Girl With a Pearl Earring, there are several things which make this novel stand apart from the rest. Chevalier perfects her art with each book she writes. The Lady and the Unicorn is historically more accurate, and extends beyond the artwork or historical milieu. Often it is tempting to wonder about something that is not known, and Chevalier toys with her subject (the tapestry and the people involved) to create a masterpiece.
In all, this is a highly enjoyable, exciting piece of literature that shouldn't be missed. Tracy Chevalier supassed my expectations of her.
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