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Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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The Lady and the Unicorn Hardcover – December 29, 2003

3.9 out of 5 stars 209 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-This fanciful, engaging tale of the making of the famous unicorn tapestries is woven together as cleverly as the artworks themselves. Dynamic Nicolas des Innocents is proud of his skill as a painter and of his sexual prowess, and displays both at every opportunity. Always in need of funds, he persuades Jean Le Viste, a powerful Parisian nobleman, to commission a series of six tapestry designs of Nicolas's choosing: scenes focused on the unicorn, a fabled symbol of male virility and mysterious powers. Jean's pious wife colludes with the artist, as do her daughter and her lady-in-waiting. Nicolas courts them all. He journeys to Brussels, where his fate becomes intertwined with the family weaving the tapestries, but most of all their daughter, Alienor, whose blindness dooms her to betrothal to a brutish wool dyer. The "family" also includes the workers who assist them, one of whom, shy Philippe, secretly adores Alienor. The deadline for completion of the tapestries is moved up, and tension increases as all concentrate on the task. The major characters' reactions to their world-early 1490s France-are revealed, like the tapestries being woven, a little at a time. The French court and its aristocracy; Flemish weavers, their work ethic, and their powerful guild-all are delineated with the consummate skill Chevalier brought to Girl with a Pearl Earring (Dutton, 2000).-Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From AudioFile

A new historical novel by the author of the hugely popular GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING tells the story of who inspired the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, made in France circa 1490. Unfortunately, where Vermeer comes off as a weakling and a cad in the former, Nicolas des Innocents, the latter's tapestry designer, is pompous and vulgar. It's hard to believe for a second in his artistic ability as all he seems interested in is bedding every female he comes in contact with. It's disappointing because we miss out on some presumably interesting history of tapestry weaving. It's too bad too because the production is very good. Blumenfeld and Donnelly do a superb job with what they have to work with. D.G. © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Chevalier, Tracy
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; 1st edition (January 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525947671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525947677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joe Sherry on March 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"The Lady in the Unicorn" is Tracy Chevalier's fourth novel. She is the author of the best selling (and recently a major motion picture) "Girl with a Pearl Earring". Tracy Chevalier seems to write the same sort of novel each time, but because the subjects are different, the ways the novels play out are different. The technique that Chevalier uses is that she takes a painting that I presume she likes (or is just interested in). She learns as much of the backstory of the painting as possible and then writes a fictional novel about how this painting came about and who the artist and subjects are. In the two Chevalier novels I have read now, this has turned out to be much more interesting than it may at first sound.
The story in "The Lady and the Unicorn" is set in 15th Century Paris and Brussels. Nicolas des Innocents has been commissioned to create a set of tapestries for a minor member of the French nobility Jean Le Viste. This seems simple enough: Commission, Paint, Weave, Complete. What sets this novel apart is in the telling. Nicolas is a talented artist, but rather arrogant about his art. He mainly paints miniatures in great detail and has never had to design a tapestry (it takes a different sort of skill to design a tapestry). But Nicolas is also a lusty man. Months prior he had impregnated a maid at Le Viste's estate and this time he has his eye on a young woman named Claude. It also seems that Claude has her eye on Nicolas. There wouldn't be any trouble (or much) if it didn't turn out that Claude is Jean Le Viste's eldest daughter and heir to the estate. Now any tryst must be secret, but Claude's mother knows something is afoot so she works to keep them apart so Claude may keep her virginity and be an eligible bride with the estate as a dowry.
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Format: Audio CD
The plot of this book is well-described above so I won't repeat it here. The high points of this novel are the rich period detail -- the differences between how members of various social classes lived, the role of women in France and Belgium during the Renaissance, the interaction between art and politics, and, most of all, the creation of art, especially tapestries and how they differ from painting. The characters are particularly well-developed and it is very easy to care for them. I especially liked the blind daughter of the weaver and how Chevalier got into how she perceived the world and how the world of her day perceived her and her "flaw." It is extremely easy to empathize with the Lady Genvieve, stuck in a loveless marriage with nothing but her religion to cling to, her daughter Claude and her importance to her father solely as a means to his social-climbing, and the family of weavers whose work on the series of tapestries of the book's title will either make them or break them, and somehow ends up doing both.
I bought this book on audio, and there are two shortcomings that keep me from giving it a higher rating, one inherent in the book itself, the other having to do with the audio reading. The first problem I have with the book is that it often reads like a bad romance novel, especially when dealing with the sexual awakening of Claude. Yes, she is a 14 year-old girl and we are hearing or reading, as the case may be, her point of view, but everytime I heard these passages I kept imagining a paperback with Fabio on the cover. I almost got into an accident driving and listening to this book as I was giggling pretty hard in places. The book is also quite repetitive and felt rather short, more like a padded novella.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Chevalier's "The Lady and the Unicorn" was a deftly woven tapestry of words that tied together several different individuals via one character named Nicolas des Innocents a very talented but vain artist.
This story is told from the view point of several of the characters (each chapter is a character in the story) on the design and creation of a very important tapestry which depicted the seduction of the Unicorn by a lady. From the birth of the design by Nicolas for a very important partron in Paris to the weaving of the design by a family of weavers in Brussels this story covers the life of Nicolas and how his randy self effects everyone that he comes into contact with.
This was a well told tale that kept me glued to the pages. Ms. Chevalier is a very talented author who chooses her inspiration for her stories from vivid works of art. This story will grab you from the very beginning and you will be drawn to the very interesting and at times funny characters that inhabit this little make belive world. I highly recommend this book as an entertaining way to pass an afternoon.
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Format: Hardcover
I didn't like Tracy Chevalier's book, "Girl With a Pearl Earring," and I didn't read the other two, so I was a little reluctant to buy this book. I love the Lady and Unicorn tapestries in the Cluny Museum in Paris so much, though, that I couldn't resist. I'm glad I didn't.
Chevalier's writing is still spare and straightforward and I was happy to see that, but her sense of character and the richness she adds to her plot strands has increased many times over.
This is a lovely book, filled with fully-realized characters and a beautifully-woven plot...almost as beautiful as the tapestries in the Cluny. Chevalier has certainly used her imagination well in giving us a story about how these beautiful tapestries might have come about. I felt like I was really transported back to France (and Brussels) during the fifteenth century. Chevalier hasn't skimped on the details and it's the details that make this book so lovely.
I enjoyed this book and, although not an artist, I am a lover of art. I think anyone who loves art, France, tapestries or beautifully-told romantic tales will love "The Lady and the Unicorn." I recommend it highly.
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