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Book Review

Book: The Lady and the Unicorn
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Published: December, 2004
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

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Synopsis: Six elaborate wall-hangings called the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are the inspiration for this tale set in the late 13th century. A wealthy French nobleman commissions a set of lavish tapestries to celebrate his rising status at Court. He hires the talented but hot-blooded Nicolas to design them. With his seductive inclinations, Nicolas wreaks havoc within the household before bringing his designs to Brussels where the tapestries will be woven. Once again, Nicolas’ romantic involvement within the family of weavers creates a tension that mounts as they all try to frantically complete the tapestries in time for their exacting client.

Editor’s Review: Unfortunately, The Lady and the Unicorn resembles more to me a shallow romance novel with its implausible situations and frequent trysts and flirtations, than a first-rate historical narrative. Each of the characters have their share of unhappiness for one reason or another but most have only one thing on their mind. There is little character development and what little plot there is, seems a bit contrived to weave a story around the historical tapestries. Of course, perhaps the book’s weakness is an accurate reflection of the small-mindedness of medieval society but it nevertheless fails to give the reader a sense of satisfaction in its conclusion. Despite these shortcomings, however, the book flows easily enough and makes its meandering plot interesting enough to propel the reader to the conclusion. Moreover, the book’s depiction of medieval life and the art of tapestry weaving strikes me as realistic and informative. If you have an interest in the art of medieval tapestry weaving, The Lady and the Unicorn will bring the process to life for you from design conception to tapestry hanging, as well as familiarize you with the famous Unicorn Tapestries.

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Diana Blake is a professional artist and art history enthusiast. Her fascination with art history began when she encountered European art firsthand during several trips abroad as a young adult. As she began to compose a portfolio for her own art career, she called upon what she had seen in Europe and extended her knowledge to other styles of art through profuse reading and exhaustive research. As a result, Diana has written more than one hundred articles in which she delves into a variety of art history topics and she has compiled a list of links that she believes to be invaluable for art history enthusiasts. In addition, she also reviews books and movies on the topic of art history and has assembled an extensive list of online stores that sell books, movies and gift items related to art history.
   You can see Diana's own artwork by visiting her site at