The Women

T. Coraghessan Boyle, Author . Viking $27.95 (451p) ISBN 978-0-670-02041-6

The genius of Frank Lloyd Wright was both magnetic and cruel, as evidenced by the succession of failed marriages and hot-blooded affairs depicted in this biographic reimagining that drills into Wright mythology and the dark shadows of the American dream. The narrative moves backwards in time through the accounts of four women in Wright’s life: Olgivanna, the steely, grounded dancer from Montenegro; Miriam, the drug-addled narcissist from the South; Kitty, the devoted first wife; and Mamah, the beloved and murdered soul mate and intellectual companion. But the novel’s centerpiece is Taliesin, Wright’s Oz-like Wisconsin home. The tragedies that befall Taliesin—fires, brutality—serve as proxy for Wright’s inner turmoil; his deeper stirrings surface only occasionally from behind Boyle’s oft-overbearing depiction of Wright’s women. The most engaging person is Tadashi Sato, the Japanese-American apprentice and narrator who emerges via his frequent footnotes as a complex reflection of “Wrieto-san” and, with his inability to remain objective and his evolving view of Wright and Wright’s image, becomes the book’s most dynamic character. It’s a lush, dense and hyperliterate book—in other words, vintage Boyle. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/17/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
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