The Women Paperback – 1 Mar 2010
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
'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 JournalSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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. Read morePublished on 28 Sept. 2013 by Escaladieu
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
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... Read morePublished on 7 May 2013 by Charles Knevitt
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. Read morePublished on 14 April 2012 by Bee
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... Read morePublished on 12 Jan. 2012 by vera