Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

I've had this book fair buy sitting in the bookshelf for ages - obviously one of those impulse buys I didn't need. Sometimes I like this author, as in Remarkable Creatures, sometimes not so much and The Lady and the Unicorn sits somewhere between.

Jean le Viste, a fifteenth-century nobleman close to the king, hires an ambitious artist to design six tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. A talented miniaturist, Nicholas des Innocents overcomes his surprise at being offered this commission when he catches sight of his patron's sumptuous daughter, Claude.

In Brussels, renowned weaver, Georges de la Chapelle, takes on the biggest challenge of his career. Never before has he attempted a work that puts so much at stake. Sucked into a world of temptattion and seduction, he and his family are consumed by the project and their dealings with the rogue painter from Paris.


There are multiple narrators, the aristocrats, the artists, the weavers,  each perspective allowing a picture of how the different social classes lived and the problems they faced, particularly the women. But for me the characters felt like cardboard cutouts chosen to fulfil those roles, they never came alive as real people and I had little interest in any of them.


What I did enjoy was the process of the creation of the tapestries.
From the first paintings to the final unrolling it was a fascinating and very interesting journey. I loved the details of the symbolism that everything added to the background has, the choosing of colours, wools and silks, the amazing talent of the weavers who created such beautiful work on their looms.

Good historical fiction which I'm sure many readers will love but didn't quite hit the mark for me.

6 comments:

  1. I've heard this is one of her weaker books. I really liked Remarkable Creatures too but I might give this one a miss.

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    1. You won't be missing anything, Sam .

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  2. It didn't quite work for me either. A lovely idea though.

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    1. Yes, it was, and I did enjoy learning more about the tapestries.

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  3. Sorry to hear you didn't like it more. The bits about the tapestry would be interesting to me.

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    1. At least it has finally removed it from the bookshelf and I guess there has to be some disappointments.

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