Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Women

I've been interested in Frank Lloyd Wright ever since reading Loving Frank two years ago. This novel, by TC Boyle, tells the stories of Wright's life with three women - Mamah Cheney, Maude Miriam Noel, and Olgivanna Milanoff. His first wife, the long-suffering Kitty Tobin, appears on the edges of the story, mainly as a bitter, jealous wife who is about to lose her husband to Mamah Cheney. Of the four women portrayed in the book, Kitty gets the worst portrayal.

But none of the women come across as very nice people. Mamah walked out on her husband and children to follow her feminist dreams. Miriam sought Wright out, pretty much stalking him, because she felt she was the only one to understand his genius. And Olgivanna traded one Svengali-like man for another when she took up with Wright.

Of course, this is fiction, told from the point of view of a fictional apprentice who didn't even know all the women. But still - it's an unpleasant cast of characters.

My mother started the book and disliked it so much that she never finished it. I found myself fascinated by it. I'm guessing the accounts of Wright are pretty close to his true character, which made me wonder why any woman would want to be involved with him. He was not a nice man at all.


Just Mom said...

I have been hoping to come across this one on a sale table ever since I read Loving Frank. Enjoyed your review and agree that while he was an exceptional architect - he was not a gentleman.

Elliott said...

Wright's genius let him be the arrogant ass he was to everyone around him, his wives, his clients, nobody was spared. I may check this out, though it might be outside my normal genres.

Charley said...

I think these characters would make me angry, but it sounds like an interesting book nonetheless.