I just finished reading Tracy Chevalier’s fourth novel, The Lady and the Unicorn. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author. The book was just excellent and if I’d had more time, I’m sure I would have had it finished in a day or two. I like the idea of taking works of art and creating a story about it. It sounds like something I’d like to do myself!
The story revolves around the creation of a set of tapestries. From the family who commissions the work, to the artist who creates the beautiful scenes, to the family who skillfully weaves the paintings into reality, each character puts their own special marking into the tapestries in one way or another. Even the Unicorn’s horn becomes like a character with how Nicolas uses it almost like a pick up line! I really love how the author breaks the chapters down, writing about the lives and experiences of a different character in each chapter. I think that is what made the people more real to me.
The book is rich with period detail and I especially enjoyed reading about the weaving process. But mostly, I fell in the love with the characters (and hated the ones who were meant to be hated). Tracy Chevalier made it easy with her writing style and how she was able to give them each something special that made you remember them. I was able to laugh and cry through triumph and despair with them.
To some, Nicolas des Innocents may have been the lead character in the book, but to me, it was always the tapestries. They seemed to breathe and live and tell the story themselves. Really, my only complaint is that the book wasn’t longer. I was sad to see it end. I’d love to read more about the characters, know what others, not associated with the involved parties, thought of the The Lady and Unicorn, how it made them feel and think.
The book is just an all round good read and I totally recommend it. I can’t wait to read my next Tracy Chevalier book. Suggestions?