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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wright was "a force of nature...an avalanche of need and emotion that swept all before it."
(4.5 stars) In this un-put-down-able novel by T. C. Boyle, Tadashi Sato, a twenty-five-year-old Japanese apprentice, arrives at Taliesin to work for Frank Lloyd Wright in 1932 and remains for nine years, doing everything that Wright asks of him. Living there in rural Spring Green, Wisconsin, for long periods of time, Tadashi sees Wright in all his moods, experiencing the...
Published on 19 Feb 2009 by Mary Whipple

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars burdensome read
well-written and intrinsically interesting tale shoots itself in both feet with a towering exoskeleton of gimmickry: a fictional (?) narrator, in translation no less, continually butting in with vapid footnotes and even whole chapters having nothing whatever to do with the actual story. this maddening conceit destroys what might otherwise have been a good read.
Published 2 months ago by Zangiku


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wright was "a force of nature...an avalanche of need and emotion that swept all before it.", 19 Feb 2009
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Women (Hardcover)
(4.5 stars) In this un-put-down-able novel by T. C. Boyle, Tadashi Sato, a twenty-five-year-old Japanese apprentice, arrives at Taliesin to work for Frank Lloyd Wright in 1932 and remains for nine years, doing everything that Wright asks of him. Living there in rural Spring Green, Wisconsin, for long periods of time, Tadashi sees Wright in all his moods, experiencing the effects of his monstrous ego firsthand, while also regarding him as a genius and powerful influence. Years later, Tadashi, now a successful Japanese architect, teams up with Seamus O'Flaherty, his grandson-in-law, as the ostensible author of the book-within-this-book about the women in Wright's life, their interactions with Wright, and their ultimate effects on Wright's turbulent career.

The women in Wright's life, as we see them here, are, like Wright, passionate, spontaneous, determined to accomplish their goals, and unwilling to let anything stand in their way, and Boyle uses their passions to structure the novel brilliantly. His first wife, Kitty, is an earth mother whose devotion to Wright allows her to believe that one day he will return to her. The lover who replaces her in Wright's affections, Mamah (pronounced MAY-ma) Borthwick Cheney, is an early feminist who is brutally murdered at Taliesin (something we learn in the opening pages). His second wife, Maud Miriam Noel, the most complex character, is an ego-driven morphine addict whose pathological jealousy makes her downright dangerous. His last lover, and eventual wife, Olgivanna Milanoff Hinzenberg, masquerades as Wright's housekeeper while pregnant with Wright's out-of-wedlock child. If these issues are not enough to keep a reader intrigued, the novel also includes two fires which burn Taliesin to the ground, an unrelenting posse of ravenous reporters, continuing financial troubles, and lawsuits galore.

If author Boyle had told this story as a straight narrative, he might have been accused of writing a pot-boiler, so sensational are the stories about Wright's life. In a masterstroke, however, he makes Tadashi the narrator, allowing Tadashi to comment on the action from his somewhat nave and culturally divorced point of view, emphasizing the issues which shocked the general public and turned his lovers into pariahs. More importantly, Boyle also turns the chronology upside down, having Tadashi tell the story backward in time from Olgivanna, Wright's last wife, back to his first wife Kitty. This brilliant change of chronology allows Boyle to drop hints, foreshadow events (in retrospect), and build a great deal of suspense, something that would not have been possible with a normal chronology. The overall effect is stunning, and the final scenes (though chronologically the earliest), involving the murders of Mamah and six others at Taliesin, are the most dramatic and emotionally rending scenes in the book.

Boyle pulls out all the stops here, creating a complex novel that is intellectually and emotionally involving, at the same time that it is masterfully structured and vibrantly written. Ultimately, however, the reader agrees with the questions raised by narrator Tadashi Sato when he asks: "Who was [Wright] after all? Was he the wounded genius or the philanderer and sociopath who abused the trust of practically everyone he knew, especially the women, especially them?" Readers will ponder these questions long after the book is finished. n Mary Whipple

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing and informative read, 21 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Women (Paperback)
Its hard to believe some of the events in this book, but it's all based on the extraordinary life of F. Loyd Wright. It's so well written ( like all of TC Boyle's writing) that it completely took me over into the strange and other- worldly place where it's set. A great read even if - as in my case - you have no particular interest in the man himself.
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2.0 out of 5 stars burdensome read, 21 May 2014
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Zangiku (Kyoto, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Women (Paperback)
well-written and intrinsically interesting tale shoots itself in both feet with a towering exoskeleton of gimmickry: a fictional (?) narrator, in translation no less, continually butting in with vapid footnotes and even whole chapters having nothing whatever to do with the actual story. this maddening conceit destroys what might otherwise have been a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking Read, 28 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Women (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book - whether its an accurate depiction of FLW's life or not did not matter to me,the book had plenty of pace & some great characterisations. Hugely enjoyable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars lost this book on a plane I really want to read!, 25 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Women (Paperback)
looking forward to reading it

I lost this book on a plane and I new it was American but as luck would have it
I managed to order it thru Amazon
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4.0 out of 5 stars Speculations on a troubled love life, 7 May 2013
By 
Charles Knevitt "Charles Knevitt" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Women (Paperback)
Frank Lloyd Wright, America's greatest architect, found time for some tempestuous love affairs, adding to his aura as a larger than life character who filled the gossip columns as well as the architectural journals. This beautifully written novel speculates on three important relationships with great gusto.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The architect of his own troubles, 27 April 2012
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Ragnar - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Women (Paperback)
This novel mainly concerns the women in the life of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, his three wives (Kitty, Miriam and Olgivanna) and his mistress (Mamah Cheney). Since all these were real people, we are dealing here with fiction based on fact and separating the two is not easy. The author reports what these people say to each other and also takes us inside their minds, so the book is best regarded as fiction however much research he has done.

The events of Wright's love life are not given in chronological order, but start towards the end and move backwards in time till we finally meet his first wife, Kitty, mother of his six children. The main virtue of this arrangement is that the author places the murder of seven people, including Mamah and her two children, towards the end of the book, where it has the effect of a culmination. The motivation for the murders is well done, though total invention on the author's part because in real life the murderer, Julian Carleton, made no attempt to explain his actions.

So what of the women? Wright's first wife, Kitty, married young and lived to regret it, since Wright left her and her children to take up with Mamah Cheney. Not only did he leave her, he left his family with no visible means of support, unpaid bills, and a prurient press besieging her in her house. Kitty appears to have been a blameless woman with much to be said for her who was grossly put upon by her husband.

Moving on to Mamah, we have a woman who also left her children. She was much influenced by the Swedish writer, Ellen Key (whom she translated into English), and Ellen and Mamah both believed in fulfilment through love. She, too, was hounded by the press and decided to fight her corner by inviting them to what we would now call a press conference. By the author's account, this worked reasonably well until one journalist asked about the children, who had been not only been deserted by her but, as if that wasn't bad enough, at Christmas.

And coming in third we have Miriam (Maude Miriam Noel). Miriam first contacts Wright by letter, expressing her sympathy for the murders at his house, Taliesin, much of which was burned down by Carleton. Miriam was addicted to morphine though, as I read the book, her addiction was not the cause of her problems with Wright.

As described in this book, Miriam has to be one of the most manipulative individuals ever to have drawn breath. This is apparent not only in the way she sets out to snare Wright (fellow artistic spirits and all that) but also, after the split, in her remorseless recourse to the law to harass Wright and his mistress then last wife, Olgivanna. (Some of the laws she uses and/or attempts to use, seem so ludicrous it is hard to understand how they ever got on the statute book: to take but one example, Alienation of Affection).

Wright's fourth woman and third wife, Olgivanna, comes across as a serious-minded person of little interest to anyone with the obvious exception of Wright himself, and also her daughter Svetlana.

Wright himself always puts his own interests first, unless external events prevent him, is adept at spending other people's money, and should have thought twice before having children. Taking these people and events together, this not an uplifting tale.

The book is very well written, though there is a creaking apparatus involving a fictional Japanese student, Tadashi Sato who, we are supposed to believe, is the narrator. A fictional translator, Seamus O'Flaherty, is provided to assist Mr Sato in his endeavours. As part of this apparatus, many footnotes are appended. This will work well if you have a real book in your hands, but using a Kindle I could find no easy way of accessing them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Women, 14 April 2012
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This review is from: The Women (Kindle Edition)
A very well written book, which is a fascinating read. The only problem is, that as I progressed through the book, I hated Frank Lloyd Wright more and more. What an odious, self-absorbed, pompous and arrogant man he was. His choice of women wasn't much better. However, well worth reading for all of that.
I can't help thinking that he took all of the credit for a lot of 'his' well known designs, but which his apprentices came up with!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disappointing fictionalisation of the life and loves of Frank Lloyd Wright, 4 Sep 2013
By 
John M. Howard (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Women (Paperback)
Frank Lloyd Wright's life is more dramatic than any fiction. As well as being an iconic figure of architecture he had a complex and tangled love life that scandalised America. Three wives (one a morphine addict) and a mistress who lived at his house Taliesin until slain with an axe (along with her children) by an insane servant.
T C Boyle takes this fascinating material and creates a curiously unengaging sprawl, made worse by a complex structure with a reverse chronology. We get some sense of Lloyd Wright's complexity and selfishness but little of his genius and charisma. Only in his portrait of Miriam (the addict wife) do we get close to a convincing recreation of an unbalanced and disappointed woman.
Avoid. There is more enjoyment and more drama in the entry on Lloyd Wright in Wikipaedia.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my kind of thing, 12 Jan 2012
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Beautifully written but I have too much going on in my life to care about a crowd of twits who are obsessed by a dingo who only cares about himself and his vision, no matter how stunning. Life's too short.

And I think one should pay one's bills- there are poor people out there who need it more than a stuck up egotist.

Nonetheless it was recommended to me by someone I respect immensely so who am I to comment?
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The Women
The Women by T. C Boyle (Paperback - 1 Mar 2010)
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