New Novel Examines Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Women'

Much has been written about the life of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Now there is a new novel, The Women, about the women in Frank Lloyd Wright's tumultuous life.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

More than half a dozen biographies detail the life of the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Some novelists take a more imaginative view of the subject. There was one novel about Wright's first mistress, a feminist who was brutally murdered at the architect's rural Wisconsin studio. And now in his fictionalized novel, T.C. Boyle writes about almost all of the women in Wright's life. The book is called, "The Women." And Alan Cheuse has this review.

ALAN CHEUSE: There's a cascade of women in Boyle's biographical novel: Wright's mother, his mistress from the Balkans, a belle from Memphis, an early feminist and another man's wife from Chicago. Each of these women gets her due while Wright's trying to design and construct new buildings for a new century. Boyle parcels out all this material by means of a pair of fictional biographers, a Japanese architect who served as apprentice to Wright during the early 1930s, and the architect's grandson by marriage.

Their control over these matters is quiet, deliberate, complete with occasional footnotes. Unlike a conventional biographical narrative, this story unfurls backward in time - starting in the early 1930s, when the Japanese apprentice first meets Wright, back toward the horrific afternoon in 1909 at Wright's house in rural Wisconsin, when violence explodes onto the page. This strategy might not work for building a house - roof first, then walls, then foundation -but it succeeds beautifully in these pages.

In this masterly new book, you get the feel both of Wright's genius and the deep love the women bestowed on him, each in her own way, in Boyle's finest construction yet.

SIEGEL: T.C. Boyle's new novel is called, "The Women." Our reviewer is Alan Cheuse.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: