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The Women: A Novel Paperback – December 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
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Boyle's Tadashi presents himself as a young, idealistic Wright acolyte who displays some of the Master's arrogance and style, but who, in his apprentice role, also feels the pain of the high-handedness with which Frank and Olgivanna run their household. The older Tadashi, looking back years after Wright's death, mixes admiration with knowing cynicism about the man.
The author also elects to tell his story in reverse. The scandals and humiliations of Wright and his third wife, Olgivanna, open the novel. Wife number two, Miriam, controls the middle part of the book as she hurls invective and threats at Wright, fighting her own volatile, unstable character as well as Frank's preemptive self-indulgence and hardness.Read more ›
In this case, Boyle finds a unique approach to Wright. In particular, he examines Wright through prisms of female confrontation that existed in three stages of his life. In Boyle's order, these are the confrontations between Miriam, Wright's estranged second wife, and Olga, who would become his third, in the early 1930's; between Miriam and Wright's mother, housekeeper, and Catherine, Wright's first wife, in the 12 years starting roughly with the Great War; and between Catherine and Mamah Cheney, Wright's lover, in the era of Wright's prairie houses.
To tell of these confrontations between the women, Boyle adapts a Harlequin romance tone. Examples include:
Olga in Part I: "Was going off with Frank Wright any different from going off with Gurdjieff--to dance, to serve, to absorb the radiance with her mouth, her fingers, her heart and mind and spirit? Or, was it simply a father she was looking for, a father to replace the one she'd lost?Read more ›
Each of them is, in their own way, an exotic of sorts - from the intelligent, liberated Mahma Cheney, to the morphine addicted, sexually charged Miriam Noel (a Sothern Belle) to the mystic-influenced, Montenegrian immigrant, Olgivanna. Each of their lives and their relationship with FLW is brought to life with Professor Boyle's customary cadence and rhythm. The best section (and most difficult to read for those who know the history)is the last one concerning Mahma. Boyle, I think does a very fine job of portraying why she was the true love of FLW's life. As in "Riven Rock", Professor Boyle does a fine job of explaining the trials of being an intelligent, self-directed woman in early 20th Century America - mostly through the recollections of Mahma.
The relationships of the various "Women" to each other other are also nicely handled. You get the sense that FLW - intentionally or not - was a trapeze artist as flew from one Women to the next - from Kitty to Mahma, from the tragic Mahma to Miriam competing with Mahma's memory and from Miriam to Olgivanna.
I would also recommend paying attention to some of the more minor female characters and their relationship with Wright and the "Women" as they also add to the picture - his mother, his various housekeepers (particularly Mrs. Breen) and cooks. It is clear that no matter how much of a mess he made of things in his relationships, FLW could not be without a female companion - some of it was sexual but a lot of it was not.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting, well researched. It dragged a little about half way through, but enlightening. I always admired the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and was aware of his womanizing,... Read morePublished 4 months ago by celia
Lives of the artist wives of the famous and eccentric architect,Frank Lloyd Wright. Who were victims and who the predator is not always cut and dried. a very interesting bookPublished 5 months ago by pamela friedland
Apparently, Frank Lloyd Wright was a sort of male Siren, irresistibly alluring to women of all types. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Laurence R. Bachmann
I am a fan of T C Boyle but the book is suffering from a complicated and contrived structure with a uninteresting and cartoonish Japanese narrator that does add nothing to the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Angela G
Nothing like TC Boyle! This novel was terrific! Frank Lloyd Wright was a rascal of the first degree!Published 6 months ago by Kathryn K. Fulhorst