Monday, April 27, 2009
THE WOMEN by TC Boyle
Not too long ago, I read Nancy Horan's book LOVING FRANK which focused on Frank Lloyd Wright's relationship with Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I had known very little about Frank Lloyd Wright's personal life before reading that book and was surprised to find out about all the drama and scandal in his life. TC Boyle revisits Wright's personal life in his new book, THE WOMEN. Boyle tells the story of Wright and the women in his life beginning with his last wife, Olgivanna and moving backwards in time to his first wife Kitty. After Olgivanna, we meet Miriam, then the ill-fated Mamah and, finally, Kitty. Each woman gets her own section. Boyle is a very gifted writer. I always savor his use of words. However, he used the very odd device of having the book narrated (and, ostensibly, written by) one of Wright's apprentices, Tadashi Sato. I found this device to be very clunky and obstrusive. While the experiences of the apprentice give us an objective point of a view and a glimpse into the private life of Wright, they bring the story to an abrupt halt every time Sato makes an appearance. However, the book is fascinating overall. It fleshes out what Horan began in her book. Wright is definitely not a sympathetic character. While he is presented as the genius that he was, he is also demonstrated to be a selfish, self-absorbed egomaniac who has to have a woman in his life at all times in order to function.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. I started to skip the parts where Sato came into the story and enjoyed the book much more. You may have the same difficulties that I did with the narration but, overall, the book gives a fascinating look into the lives of the women that affected Wright.