Anna Maria Locke

Book Review: The Women


T.C. Boyle's The Women is a historical fiction/biography on the life of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, as narrated by a fictional Japanese apprentice and presented through the interactions of Wright and his four wives and lovers (thus the title).  I started reading this book because Wright was a midwestern architectural icon, and I've been to the Chicago suburb of Oak Park where he built several houses.  I'm not the biggest fan of the Prairie-style (sry Ben) but I thought it would be interesting to learn about his life, which was evidently quite juicy.  Since the book focuses on the perspectives of Wright's "women" instead of his own, it is a revealing and entertaining way to learn about him--evidently an eccentric egotistic jerk. The book is primarily fiction, but is loosely based on reality (the timeline of his life, his main relationships, etc.).  I don't know how accurately the personalities of some characters were portrayed because they are CRAAAAZY!!! but maybe they actually were....It was a bit difficult to read at times because it is told in reverse chronological order, starting with his last wife and proceeding backwards from there; as a result, it is easy to predict what previously happened, there is no real climax, and the plot loses a lot of emotional...hooks? Plus the "narrator" inserts distracting little anecdotes in the footnotes of random pages.  Overall, the book was entertaining but not gripping.  I liked it and learned a lot about architecture in the early 1900's, the media and press, and Japanese culture.  I would recommend it if you are interested in Frank Lloyd Wright or early/mid 1900's society.