Customer Reviews for

The Lady and the Unicorn

Average Rating 4
( 60 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(21)

4 Star

(20)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(2)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Absorbing, colorful and wonderfully written!

Absorbing and colorful. The author has a wonderful talent for historical writing.Her grasp of the arts and how they were achieved back then was excellent. The characters were clear and interesting, keeping me reading all night long. I cannot wait for the author's next b...
Absorbing and colorful. The author has a wonderful talent for historical writing.Her grasp of the arts and how they were achieved back then was excellent. The characters were clear and interesting, keeping me reading all night long. I cannot wait for the author's next book!

posted by Anonymous on June 26, 2004

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Not As Good As Girl With A Pearl Earring

My initial assessment of The Lady and the Unicorn remained true throughout the rest of the book: It was alright, but not the good piece of historical fiction I was expecting. The best parts were when we're taken to Brussels (home of the lissier and his family) and get i...
My initial assessment of The Lady and the Unicorn remained true throughout the rest of the book: It was alright, but not the good piece of historical fiction I was expecting. The best parts were when we're taken to Brussels (home of the lissier and his family) and get inside the heads of the people who live there. Alienor was my favorite character, she's charming, stubborn, sympathetic, and independant. She makes her own future to save herself from a dismal life with a man she cannot stand. She is the true central part of this book, but she doesn't emerge until a third of the way through. If it had been more about her and her family, I think I would have liked it better.

We're intially introduced to Jean Le Viste and his family; his daughter Claude is one of the main characters in the beginning, but a) she's not very likeable, and b) she disappears for the whole middle section of the book and only surfaces briefly once before the very end. Additionally, the character of Nicolas has some motivational problems. On one hand, he's an arogant, cheap womanizer who seduces anything with breasts and can't wait to "plow" Claude in her fathers house. On the other, he's a likeable, charming, struggling painter who saves Alienor from a life of misery. Make up your mind, fellow.

I felt that the language was a little too obnoxious at parts, especially with the times of prayers and the holidays. Sext, May Day, Ascension Day, Candlemas? These mean nothing to me so it's hard to tell what the real passing of time is. I understand they're part of the language, so I got over it, but toward the end they resurfaced a lot. And the characters voices and language when they were talking to each other also seemed unrealistic at times.

There's a clear plot device (petite Claude) that is meant to shock the reader; but we're not stupid and it falls flat. Overall, I wasn't a fan, nor was I wholly disappointed with this book. It wouldn't be the first one I'd recommed, but I've read worse. I'd give it 2 1/2 stars out of 5.

posted by TheCrowdedLeaf on September 3, 2009

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  • Posted May 23, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book. I did not find it cheesy at all, as

    I really enjoyed this book. I did not find it cheesy at all, as one review stated. It is a little heavier on the sexual side but I reject the claim that it is "almost erotica."

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not As Good As Girl With A Pearl Earring

    My initial assessment of The Lady and the Unicorn remained true throughout the rest of the book: It was alright, but not the good piece of historical fiction I was expecting. The best parts were when we're taken to Brussels (home of the lissier and his family) and get inside the heads of the people who live there. Alienor was my favorite character, she's charming, stubborn, sympathetic, and independant. She makes her own future to save herself from a dismal life with a man she cannot stand. She is the true central part of this book, but she doesn't emerge until a third of the way through. If it had been more about her and her family, I think I would have liked it better.

    We're intially introduced to Jean Le Viste and his family; his daughter Claude is one of the main characters in the beginning, but a) she's not very likeable, and b) she disappears for the whole middle section of the book and only surfaces briefly once before the very end. Additionally, the character of Nicolas has some motivational problems. On one hand, he's an arogant, cheap womanizer who seduces anything with breasts and can't wait to "plow" Claude in her fathers house. On the other, he's a likeable, charming, struggling painter who saves Alienor from a life of misery. Make up your mind, fellow.

    I felt that the language was a little too obnoxious at parts, especially with the times of prayers and the holidays. Sext, May Day, Ascension Day, Candlemas? These mean nothing to me so it's hard to tell what the real passing of time is. I understand they're part of the language, so I got over it, but toward the end they resurfaced a lot. And the characters voices and language when they were talking to each other also seemed unrealistic at times.

    There's a clear plot device (petite Claude) that is meant to shock the reader; but we're not stupid and it falls flat. Overall, I wasn't a fan, nor was I wholly disappointed with this book. It wouldn't be the first one I'd recommed, but I've read worse. I'd give it 2 1/2 stars out of 5.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2008

    Almost Erotica

    Compared to Girl With a Pearl Earring, this novel is quite scandalous. There was a bit too much R-rated subject matter for a novel in this genre, but I enjoyed it anyway. Beware!! The sexual inuendos are everywhere, and on nearly every page.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2005

    excellent novel

    I was very pleasantly surprised when I picked up this book. I knew the author from the prior Virgin Blue, but I wasn't expecting to quickly become as absorbed as I did. The book is amazingly detailed and in turn a fascinating world is created.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2004

    Captivating

    I was impressed and utterly engrossed in Chevalier's book. She is a true storyteller, possessing a wonderful gift to weave a story from a topic of which little is known. Her characters are exceptionally real-- amusing, infuriating, beautiful. I also enjoy the reality of her stories since so many these days end so perfectly.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2004

    Absorbing, colorful and wonderfully written!

    Absorbing and colorful. The author has a wonderful talent for historical writing.Her grasp of the arts and how they were achieved back then was excellent. The characters were clear and interesting, keeping me reading all night long. I cannot wait for the author's next book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2004

    Enchanting Tale

    Having recently visited the Cluny Museum and viewed the beautiful tapestries which are the true stars of this story, I was especially eager to read Ms. Chevalier's latest novel. I was not disappointed in this tale of the lusty, handsome artist commissioned to design the tapestries for a wealthy patron who has more interest in making a fine impression than in works of art. With the skill of a fine weaver, the author creates a stunning tale through her use of interwoven points of view. The setting is five hundred years ago, yet it is easy to identify with the characters' hopes, dreams, and disappointments. The descriptions of the ongoing process of creating a magnificent and intricate tapestry at a time when everything was done painstakingly by hand are fascinating. This is a wonderful story that once started is very, very difficult to put down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    A Story Woven with History.......

    I love Tracy Chevalier. I love how she imagines what went on and who the extraneous characters would be. The Lady and the Unicorn was yet another wonderful story with rich detail and interesting characters. Can't wait for the next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2004

    Enjoy!

    This book was great. I have tapestry of 'Taste' in my house, so i was quite absorbed by the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2004

    superb historical

    In 1490, having purchased his way into the aristocracy, French nobleman Jean Le Viste, feeling self-important, tries to further impress the King and his court on how worthy a person he is. He commissions artist Nicholas des Innocents to design tapestries for Le Viste. Jean¿s disappointing spouse, a failure for begetting three girls and no male heirs, wants unicorns as the stars............................................. However Nicholas finds his patron¿s daughter Claude as the inspiration for the work as he and she fall in love. However, her social climbing father would never allow his daughter to have anything to do with an artisan. Jean takes the drawings to Brussels where the drawings are converted into six lush six tapestries depicting a Lady and the Unicorn.......................................... On the surface THE LADY AND THE UNICORN seems like a repeat of the invigorating GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING that used a masterpiece to tell the story of the model that posed for the painting, but that is not really the case here. Though Tracy Chevalier uses the real tapestries hanging in the Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris, she paints a different story. This time a fabulous romance for the ages serves as a backdrop to an in-depth look at life in Paris and Brussels for the aristocracy and especially the artisans and a delightful look at the fifteenth century tapestry industry struggling to meet a tight time line with a quality product as Ms. Chevalier has done with her pioneering of a historical sub-genre that does to the arts what Stoppard did to Hamlet.............................. Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Great mix of fiction and history

    When I read this book, I felt the floor and the surroundings! If you like history you'll enjoy this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2012

    Enjoyable

    A fast and enjoyable read. Not the most riveting, but does draw the reader in.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Lady and the Unicorn: Beyond the Tapestry

    Tracy Chevalier takes on art history through a novel again, and successfully creates characters that give the story behind the art, this time of the famous medievel tapestry, "The Lady and the Unicorn." Chevalier uses the voices of different characters to provide a changing point of view to the overall plot. I enjoyed this book immensely, as the tapestry has been a favorite piece of artwork of mine since I was a child. It was an entertaining and thought provoking book that made me start to think of other "stories behind the art" so to speak. I hope Chevalier tackles more in this genre, as I would enjoy reading more of her creations.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguing, enlightening, fun and different

    I enjoyed this book very much. Tracy Chevalier has done such a good job of taking a piece of art and building a story around it. I learned a great deal about how tapestries were made and what life was like so long ago. I loved the way she developed her characters and used touches of sensuality and humor throughout the book. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Posted June 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Perfect beach read ...

    As is her forte, Ms. Chevalier takes a relatively unknown piece of artwork and creates an enchanting tale around it. The reader is taken back in time to 15th century Belgium and allowed to witness the creation of the The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries . We are introduced to the materials needed to create such beauty and come to know the people involved with their creation - the weavers, painters, dyers, etc . , and their families. I found this to be a light and carefree read. This would be a perfect beach read or one where you could escape from reality (at least, for a few hours).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    VERY LIGHT READING

    Actually, this book gets three and half stars. It's a very light reading on the famous French tapestries. It's told from different points of view. We read about the story of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry told by a seductive artist, a grand lady, her daughter, the weaver's family, etc. It could've been a richer book but it's fine and it lets us see a bit of medieval France and Belgium.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2007

    Wonderful

    I enjoyed this book, as well as all the others by this author. Wonderful!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2007

    Good Characterizations and Plot

    After a seemingly slow start with not much initial plot other than a womanizing artist and the tapestries....this book turned out to be quite good! The slow start allows the reader to become gently emersed in each of the characters little by little and into their worlds as well. The slowness allowed the weaving of intracies of plot and characterization that would not have been as rich and three dimensional at a faster pace. It also paralleled the weaving of the tapestries which I felt was the mark of a good writer and approached poetic device. I did think however that some of the scenes with the weavers were a bit too slow but that only heightened the excruciatingly, painstaking process that is involved in weaving tapestries of such magnitude. At first though I was jolted each time the narrator changed...which is at each chapter's beginning...I eventually got used to the pace and looked forward to it. The characters are extremely well developed and the plot very well followed through on. I would have liked to see a bit more of the character Claude and her evolution at the end of the book however. This book really emersed me in the lives and pains of the characters and how each one is bound to their lineage and birth rights...for good or bad. It also shows how even within one's fate small changes in circumstance can change everything. The book is both hopeful and dooming all at once. Truly great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2007

    Awful

    I absolutely hated this book. After reading Girl With a Pearl Earring, I was eager to read more from this author. Lady and the Unicorn, however, was a complete dissapointment!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2006

    Excellent!

    I loved this book. First Chevalier book and its genre. I was actually sad it ended. Only downside, if there is a downside, is that it was a little difficult for me to keep getting into all the character's heads. Other than that, I loved the book and plan to read Girl With A Pearl Earring.

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