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I have listened to books about art before; but this one, while competently narrated, and while apparently well researched and written, was difficult to follow. Even using various on-line sources for viewing the Bayoux tapestry, I was lost most of the time. At points in the text, there are references to specific images in specific panels, and I found no good way to follow along. The tapestry is 230 feet long (nearly 80 yards!) and viewing it online was simply not very satisfactory. Parts of the story, however, do not really require following the tapestry. The tapestry tells the story of the Battle of Hastings, (1066) where William of Normandy conquered the English King Harold. The book tells what is known of the tapestry; explains some of the artwork; notes that it is the source of much of the written history of the battle. There is also some interesting history of the tapestry itself, such as the fact that the Germans were interested in it during World War II to show that the Germans had a historical right to Britain. Other facts, such as when it was made and by whom are the subject of much debate.
I enjoyed much of the book, and think I would have enjoyed it more had I a decent copy of the tapestry to follow along with.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
If you're deeply, deeply interested in historic textiles, this is a wonderful, well-written book. I don't believe it will have much appeal to other readers, for example those interested in the details of the Norman invasion or biographical information about the dramatis personae of that era.
To appreciate the subject, you must have a detailed image of the embroidery. There are amazing images, visual puns and puzzles, and so much storytelling in the needlework.
I was lucky enough to have access to an old book with large, multiple fold-out images, and as a more useful alternative, there are many sections which can be viewed online. Without visuals, this book is about as useful as trying to read about Van Gogh without ever seeing one of his paintings.
Note: "The Bayeux Tapestry Embroiderer's Story" by Jan Messent is a hand-written and illustrated book which may also be of interest to the textile-obsessed who wish to delve deeper into the artistic elements and craftsmanship of the embroidery itself.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Half of this book for me was enjoyable. The other half, largely tedious. This dividing line comes when the author moves from the historical/political/cultural and on to the details of the stitching, the cloth and the manual techniques involved. This to some extent is interesting, but within this book for me it went on for too long.
Either way, a good book with many interesting ideas. Would be 4* if it was edited for about 1 hours boredom.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful