Chevalier, Tracy "The Lady and the Unicorn" - 2003
I've read quite a few of Tracy Chevalier's books. This is my fifth and it is all about a painting we hardly know anything about.
My fifth book by this remarkable author. Tracy Chevalier manages to weave history into her novels like nobody else. Even if her characters did not exist, it makes you feel like they did.
In this case, she tells the story of the Unicorn tapestries that were woven sometime in the 16th century . Little is known about them but you can almost imagine that the way Tracy Chevalier tells us is how it all actually happened.
This is the story of real tapestries called "The Lady and the Unicorn", six tapestries, each of them representing one of our five senses, sight (La Vue), sound (L'Ouïe), smell (L'Odorat), touch (Le Toucher), taste (Le Goût) and a sixth called Mon Seul Désir (My only desire)
But even if you're not interested in history or art at all, this is a nice story about life in the Middle Ages. Or, if you are interested, you can go and see the tapestries in the Musée national du Moyen Âge (former Musée de Cluny) in Paris,
For me, the part that happened in Brussels was the most interesting. I used to live in Brussels and we still visit as often as possible. It is one of the loveliest towns around and you can still see all the guild houses and most of the other parts they are talking about nowadays.
From the back cover:
"It was the commission of a lifetime. Jean Le Viste, a fifteenth-century nobleman close to the King, hires an artist to design six tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. Nicolas des Innocents overcomes his surprise at being offered this commission when he catches sight of his patron's daughter, Claude. His pursuit of her pulls him into the web of fragile relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, lovers and servants.
It was a revolutionary design.
In Brussels, renowned weaver Georges de la Chapelle takes on the biggest challenge of his career. Never before has he attempted a work that puts so much at stake. Sucked into a world of temptation and seduction, he and his family are consumed by the project and by their dealings with the rogue painter from Paris. The results changed all their lives."