TC Boyle has long validated his credentials as one of the most individual writers at work today, with a style and a vision quite unlike that of any of his contemporaries. The Women
, his latest book, will add even more lustre to his reputation. It’s a novel that brings to mind the pressure-cooker narratives of William Faulkner, though its subject could not be more different: the life and loves of the most famous of the great American architects, Frank Lloyd Wright.
The imposing estate of Taliesen is a noted feature of rural Wisconsin, and it’s a place where the passions – of all kinds – run high. Reporters haunt the property, hungry for more revelations guaranteed to sell newspapers – because Taliesen is the home of the celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright. As well as being the most famous architect of his country in the twentieth century, his celebrity was (and is) world-wide. But his messy private life (as reproduced in Boyle’s novel) is a considerable source of interest and scandal along with his massive artistic achievements. His first wife, Kitty, lives in a world of her own, persuading herself that his other amours are transitory. Then there is his mistress, the passionate and strong-willed Mamah. And there is his deranged second wife, Miriam. And if this weren’t enough of a powder keg, also stirred into the heady brew is Oglivanna, a Serbian immigrant, who shares most closely the turbulence and terror of the architect’s jumbled private life, with Miriam a kind of avenging fury, enlisting a host of pretty officials to get her way. It’s a remarkable scenario (narrated by one of the architect’s apprentices), and Boyle gives it incandescent life, with the character of Frank Lloyd Wright brilliantly conjured at the heart of the unlikely – but compelling – narrative. --Barry Forshaw
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'Frank Lloyd Wright's three dramatic love affairs, with all the elaborate deceptions, abandoned children, scandalised headlines and cruel conflagrations, real and metaphorical. The prose is sparkling, the narrative gripping, and the material to die for' The Times 'Gripping, enormously entertaining, and written with deliberately melodramatic gusto' Lionel Shriver, Daily Telegraph 'Boyle ratchets up every ounce of tension from the story. A stunning achievement' Daily Mail 'Riveting ... Despite dozens of writers' attempts to capture Wright's story, it seems safe to say that none has rendered it with more crackling life than Boyle' Wall Street Journal