Mary Novaria's Reviews > The Women

The Women by T.C. Boyle
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Dec 20, 2010

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Read in December, 2010

I love Frank Lloyd Wright's work, but if T.C. Boyle's account of Wright's personal life is accurate, the genius architect was no prize in the husband/lover department. This kind of historical fiction is fun, taking real life people and situations and bringing them to life with imagined intimate conversations and pretend private thoughts.

The scope of this juicy book is quite wide--painting Wright's four major loves over several decades against the backdrop of his Spring Green, Wisconsin masterpiece Taliesin. Wright's controlling treatment of his architectural interns and domestic staff is just a small step removed from slavery as he often doesn't meet the payroll and requires extreme hours and loyalty. He breezes in and out of these women's lives and beds with little concern for their emotional or financial needs, and pretty much ignores his children. Once they attach themselves to Wright, each of these women sacrifices something--dignity, sanity, children, and privacy as the media hounds these couples in a fashion worthy of today's paparazzi.

The Women is charmingly and thoroughly narrated by a fictional Japanese architect who studied for years under Wright and compromised his own heart along the way. Many believe the tragic Mamah Borthwick was Wright's one true love, but based on Boyle's illustration of an egotistcal Wright I'd guess his heart belonged merely to himself and to his work.

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