Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop Cyber Monday Deals Week in Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen in Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars11
3.6 out of 5 stars
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:£9.98+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
(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 naïve 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

The Road to Wellville: A Comedy of the Heart and Other Organs
Talk Talk
A Friend of the Earth
Drop City
Riven Rock
44 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2013
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 April 2012
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!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 May 2014
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 May 2013
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2013
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 September 2013
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 April 2012
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2013
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
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2009
T.C Boyle's book "The Women" is an interesting book, I am a great admirer of Frank Lloyd Wrights work. However I find the book confusing at times and the persons stays relatively anonymous.It did lead me to Nancy Horans book "Loving Frank" though which is about Mamie, Franks Big Love, the books reads well together!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Water Music
Water Music by T. C Boyle (Paperback - 12 Jan. 1998)

San Miguel
San Miguel by T. C. Boyle (Paperback - 1 Aug. 2013)

The Tortilla Curtain
The Tortilla Curtain by T. C Boyle (Paperback - 16 May 1996)

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.