Saturday, February 14, 2004

I had high hopes for The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. After all, I like historical novels, particularly those set in the medieval era, and I liked Girl with a Pearl Earring. But I confess I read only as far as page 88. Bored out of my skull, I then skimmed ahead, to catch a glimpse of the rest of the book and, unfortunately, my initial impressions were confirmed. Unless you are fascinated by the intricacies of fifteenth-century tapestry weaving, this title may hold little interest for you.

I believe this book could have been saved with one or two or even three central, thoroughly developed characters to carry the story. Instead, Chevalier makes the creation of the tapestries the focus of the book. There are far too many characters for a novel of 250 pages, and they're flat. They have normal human desires, perhaps, but they don't come alive. Part of this lack may be due to the stilted dialogue. Chevalier's attempts to make her characters' speech "sound" like the fifteenth century are not convincing.

Reviews are mixed, so check out the link above if you want to see what the critics think.


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