I picked up Tracy Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn mostly because I’d read another novel of hers — The Girl with a Pearl Earring — and I’d enjoyed it.
This novel was also enjoyable. The story, about a French painter in the 1400’s who gets a commission from a nobleman to design tapestries, meanders through the points of view of a number of characters in the book. The painter, the nobleman’s wife and daughter, the weaver, and others describe the events. The changes in point of view didn’t confuse me; rather, I found them intriguing.
The first chapter almost put me off — the painter, Nicolas des Innocents — is a crude man who uses language that I found offensive. But because I’d read Chevalier’s work before, I pushed through. I’m glad I did, because even though Nicolas isn’t my favorite character, the events of the story change him to a softer, more sympathetic person. It was worth it to see his transformation.
The other characters are also interesting and well-developed.
Although I know nothing of fifteenth century nobility or weaving, it seemed to me that Chevalier had researched the information thoroughly and she spoke with confidence about the process and the terminology.
The Lady and the Unicorn was a book I did not want to stop reading.