Never let it be said that I let a book that has anything to do with Frank Lloyd Wright go unread. I am a fanatic about all things FLW, have been on pilgrimages to his homes, my own photos of homes grace my walls, my wallet is a card case with one of his designs, etc. I almost peed my pants last year when a friend allowed me to climb on the roof on one of his houses that he built in Oak Park.
It took forever for me to finally to get around to The Women and took longer than usual to read it. In case you don’t know, The Women is a fictional telling of FLW’s four love interests’ stories. Honestly, the book wasn’t that great for me, but I blame that on the fact that I have read so much about him that most of it was like old news to me.
What I found truly unique was the perspective that it was written in and the flow of the story. First of all, it was told more or less backwards, starting with his last wife, second wife, a bit about his first wife, and then the mistress he had during his first marriage. This way of going back in time was so interesting and I can’t say that I have ever seen the technique used before in a book.
Another facet that was different was the narrator. Each section of the book started out with an introduction of sorts from a fictional apprentice of his. Then the narrator would step back and disappear into the story. Risky move for a writer especially considering that the apprentice wasn’t even with FLW for all of the years that the book covers.
Final thoughts, Frank Lloyd Wright may have been a genius, but that doesn’t mean that he was a likeable man. The women in his life were far from traditional, or even stable in some cases. The way that they are written in The Women didn’t endear me to them either. What stands out about this book was the craft of the writing. Boyle took multiple risks that many writers wouldn’t even dare taking. Brava!
Final Suggestion, if you read one fictional book based on Frank Lloyd Wright make it Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. While the writing is great on The Women, the women themselves are too batsh*% crazy to make it enjoyable. Loving Frank focuses on one of his women and her tragic story, much easier to chew and digest.
The Women: A Novel by T.C. Boyle