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The Women (2008)

by T. C. Boyle

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1,5275710,341 (3.55)71
Recounts the life of Frank Lloyd Wright as told through the experiences of the four women who loved him: the Montenegrin beauty Olgivanna Milanoff; the passionate Southern belle Maud Miriam Noel; the spirited Mamah Cheney, tragically killed; and his young first wife, Kitty Tobin.
  1. 10
    Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (mdexter)
  2. 10
    Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders by William R. Drennan (bnbookgirl)
    bnbookgirl: Frank Lloyd Wright
  3. 00
    The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Although The Women recounts several love affairs between architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his paramours, the lush lyricism of this richly detailed biographical novel may appeal to fans of The Aviator's Wife, which also explores the complexities of romantic relationships.… (more)

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English (54)  French (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Tried reading this two times. Not my bag, man. ( )
  Carmentalie | Jun 4, 2022 |
The women
The women of the title are the wives and mistress of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. I have read Loving Frank about Mamah Borthwick, his mistress during his marriage to Kitty (Catherine Tobin). The other wives are Miriam Noël Wright and Olgivanna Milanoff.
This is historical fiction and Boyle uses a character called Tadashi Sato, a Japanese immigrant, who was one of Wright’s apprentices at Taliesin to provide the narrative. He is assisted periodically by Seamus O’Flaherty. It’s well done.
Tadashi arrives at Taliesin in 1932 as an architectural apprentice to Wright but in reality the program provides free labour for Wright and his family. He stays for eight years and provides a very good description of the man who may be a genius but is also a con artist, a philanderer, perhaps a sociopath who abused the trust of everyone, especially the women in his life.
The bulk of the story focuses on his second wife Miriam who Wright married after the horrible death of Mamah and six others in the murder and fire at Taliesin in 1914. Miriam is portrayed as a a nut case given to temper tantrums and violence when displeased or ignored. She was a sculptor who lived in Paris before meeting Wright. The marriage lasted a year because of Miriam’s addiction to morphine and her mental instability. By this stage, Wright has met Olgivanna Milanoff and had another child with her. Miriam fights tooth and nail and lures the media into the salacious details of her life with Frank and his life with Olgivanna.
Kitty Wright is portrayed as a good person who is trying to keep her children housed, fed, educated and loved as Frank abandons her for Mamah. Kitty takes the high road and struggles to run the household on credit and keeps her dignity among the friends and neighbours in Oak Park. She refuses to give Frank a divorce.
Mamah is the last woman in the story and the focus is primarily on her life with Frank at Taliesin as she works on translating the work of her mentor, Swedish feminist Ellen Key.
Olgivanna is the brains behind the apprenticeship program and she runs the household, outbuildings and family as Wright creates and builds around the world.
Frank and his women are free spirits who disdain anyone who disagrees with their morals and lifestyles which given the times, early 20th century was pretty wild. Very well written, character development is excellent. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Aug 12, 2021 |
I read Loving Frank a few years ago and was really interested in learning more about Frank Lloyd Wright's many relationships. The story was told from the point of view of one of his apprentices and was very interesting to a point. It was just too long and at some point about 3/4 of the way through I just didn't care anymore and stopped reading. ( )
  baruthcook | Aug 26, 2020 |
I missed recording this book when I read it, but do remember liking it. Not sure when I read it and what review I would have given at the time. Frank Lloyd Wright was a major jerk.
  maryreinert | Jun 19, 2019 |
A few years ago I read Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle and gave it 5 stars. I have since read 2 more books by Boyle and found them disappointing. The Women follows the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright's wives and mistresses. If you are thinking "hmm...I thought there was another novel about this that Laura is always recommending" You are correct. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan focuses on Wright's mistress Mamah. I gave that book 5 stars and still would like to do a day trip out to Spring Green because of that novel.

In The Women the narrator is one of Wright's apprentices and a Japanese citizen. I would have rather had a book about the apprentices' lives as these parts were the best and most developed characters. The 4 women and Frank never seemed fully developed like the narrator and the other apprentices. It followed a lot of the true story of places they traveled and news sensations but in a novel I'd expect to understand their motives better. If I hadn't read Loving Frank I think I'd be even more confused about these women. ( )
  strandbooks | Feb 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
T. C. Boyleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility; I chose arrogance. ~Frank Lloyd Wright
For Karen Kvashay
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I didn't know much about automobiles at the time-still don't, for that matter-but it was an automobile that took me to Taliesin in the fall of 1932, through a country alternately fortified with trees and rolled out like a carpet to the back walls of its barns, hayricks, and farmhouses, through towns with names like Black Earth, Mazomanie and Coon Rock, where no one in living memory had ever seen a Japanese face.
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Recounts the life of Frank Lloyd Wright as told through the experiences of the four women who loved him: the Montenegrin beauty Olgivanna Milanoff; the passionate Southern belle Maud Miriam Noel; the spirited Mamah Cheney, tragically killed; and his young first wife, Kitty Tobin.

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Average: (3.55)
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2 32
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