The “women” in this novel are the wives and mistresses in architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s life, and the romances are messy; full of infidelity, divorce, drugs, family desertion, and tragedy. Moving backward in time, the novel is narrated by a fictional Japanese-American apprentice to Wright, whose sharp observations provide the novel’s admiring, but also satirical tone.
I’ve read a lot about Frank Lloyd Wright, and have seen and toured many of his buildings, admiring their design. But T. C. Boyle lives in a Wright-designed house, and that provides a different perspective. It probably allows him to see what doesn’t work, as well as what does. And that perspective is clearly in evidence in this novel, which highlights the flaws not in Wright’s architecture, but in his personal life.
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Also recommended, for a more sympathetic take and a focus on Wright’s mistress, Mamah Borthwick: Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan.