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The Lady and the Unicorn

The next book in the Colette Book Club is The Lady and the Unicorn, a historical novel by Tracy Chevalier. You can read the first chapter for free on the author’s website.

The Lady and the Unicorn is inspired by six famous mediaeval tapestries. Now over 500 years old, these tapestries hang in the Musée National du Moyen Age in Paris.


Very little is known about their origins or their meaning. We do know that each tapestry depicts a woman and a unicorn, and five symbolize one of the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. And we know that they were woven for an important family sometime in the late 15th century in Flanders.

The Lady and the Unicorn imagines the lives of the people behind these tapestries: the artists and weavers who created them, and the noble family who commissioned them. Chevalier delves into each person’s thoughts and desires, creating characters that feel very much like real people. Her depiction of a medieval weaving workshop is fascinating. Craftspeople will appreciate every detail about the work that went into these tapestries. The story is fast-paced, surprising, and more than a little sexy, which you might not have expected from a novel about medieval weavers!

How to find it:

You can find The Lady and the Unicorn at bookstores or at your local library. It’s also available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and as an Overdrive library ebook (in some regions). It’s also available as an audiobook. You can read the first chapter for free on the author’s website.

We’ll discuss the book on this blog, six weeks from now, on June 23rd. Let people know you’re reading along with the hashtag #ColetteBookClub. Send any comments or recommendations to

Upcoming books:

June 23: The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever by Terri Agins. How did fashion change from an elitist business tightly controlled by French designers to the mainstream market it is today? Agins explains in a book that won’t bore you, even if you’re the kind of person who would fall asleep in a business course.

August 4: The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit by JJ Lee. When journalist and amateur tailor JJ Lee decides to re-makes his late father’s suit, he starts a journey into his family’s past, the history of suits, and the meaning of masculinity.

Kat Siddle

Kat Siddle is a librarian and fashion school dropout from Vancouver, B.C. She blogs about beauty and sewing at



May 12, 2016 #

I read this a couple of years ago and loved it! I discovered Tracy Chevalier through Girl with a Pearl Earring, another book I would definitely recommend!


May 12, 2016 #

Interesting. This is not a book that I would typically be compelled to read, but I’m looking forward to discovering something new!

Thank you for announcing the upcoming titles, as well. I don’t have easy access English-language books where I live, and I’ve been ordering used copies of the Book Club titles online. Shipping can take a while; this way, I can order the books ahead of time.


May 13, 2016 #

it sounds really good! I’m looking forward to it


May 13, 2016 #

I enjoyed this book. As a tapestry weaver, it was an interesting read.


May 14, 2016 #

Your selections are really intriguing and I’m really enjoying this book club. I love to read, but I tend to read way more non-fiction. I made a promise that I would read more fiction this year, so this club has really helped with that endeavor, plus I’m reading authors I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, so thank you. I ordered the book today, so I can’t wait to start.

Kat S

May 15, 2016 #

@Skye Thank you! That made my day.

Carlyn Gilbert

May 28, 2016 #

I am truly enjoying the book club choices. New authors and titles and I have loved each one. Looking forward to continuing. Thank you!


June 5, 2016 #

What a lovely book. Since I can’t join you June 16, I will add my ideas now. While a quick smooth read the book added to my knowledge of tapestry weaving. The skillful use of characters and events made the explanations of the process appear natural rather than forced and pedantic. I would now like to hop on the next plane to Paris to see the remnants of the tapestries.