Book Review: The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

Once again Tracy Chevalier has won me over with a beautifully told historical tale.

I personally baulk at reading historical novels – Philippa Gregory fills me with dread, yet I know that she is a well known and respected author. However, some years ago I was introduced to Tracy Chevalier and read her novel Remarkable Creatures about Mary Anning, a young lass who spent her life on the Dorset coast ‘fossicking’ and selling her fossils to raise funds to feed the family.

Like in Remarkable Creatures, Tracy has reimagined the characters behind real events in history. This time the story tells of the creation of a set of medieval tapestries that today, after much restoration, are hanging in the Cluny Museum in Paris.

Blissfully written without the use of ‘olde English’, Tracy creates characters that run like the threads of the tapestry itself, through the design and execution of these masterpieces. Beginning with the arrogant aristocrat who commissions the work, his overlooked wife and daughters, to the sexy, lusty artist commissioned to design the works. Moving to Brussels, we meet the family of weavers chosen to carry out the work, which includes another potential target for the randy artist.

In true Chevalier style, she manages to create a cast of believable, loveable and unloveable characters whilst subliminally educating us about a time, place, and subject matter.

A very enjoyable and page-turning read.

The Lady and the Unicorn is available to order from Hungerford Bookshop

Hilary Stockwell
Book reviewer and bookworm

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Covering: Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage,   Lambourn, Newbury, Thatcham & Theale