Book Review: The Women

The Women

T Coraghessan Boyle

Penguin

464 pages

I have wanted to read a book by TC Boyle for quite some time.  I have Drop City on my shelves, but as is often the case, just because I buy a book doesn’t mean I’ll read it–or at least not in a timely manner!  I also loved Nancy Horan’s book Loving Frank, also about Frank Lloyd Wright and his love life, so when I saw that TC Boyle had written The Women, also about Frank Lloyd Wright and his love life, I knew it would a perfect read for me. 

Loving Frank deals with Wright’s tragic love affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney.  It also involves some information about Wright’s first wife Kitty.  The Women is more all-encompassing.   Again it involves little information about Kitty (which left me wanting more in that regard, despite the already long length of this tome) but it also went into Frank’s relationships with his second and third wives.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Quite a selfish man–whether this is fictional or not, it was present in both The Women and Loving Frank.  And the fact of the matter is that Wright was willing to leave his first wife Kitty and his numerous children with her to gallivant around with his mistress.  Basically, my idea of Wright after reading both of the aforementioned fictional books about him is that he was a selfish man with little respect for the dollar.  In The Women, he was quoted as saying something about his theory that one should buy luxuries first because the necessities would follow.

Catherine “Kitty” Wright

Married to Frank Lloyd Wright from 1889-1922.  They had six children together and Kitty was married to Wright throughout his entire affair with Mamah Cheney.  She refused to grant him the divorce he yearned for until after Cheney had died at Wright’s Wisconsin home Taliesin I.  She was given very little notice in either Loving Frank or The Women

Mamah Borthwick Cheney

Cheney and Wright began their love affair while Wright was designing and building a home for Cheney and her husband Edward.  They escaped together to Europe–Mamah abandoned her husband and two young children in order to live with Wright.  Their relationchip ignited a maelstrom of news activity and Wright eventually built Talisin I in Wisconsin as a sanctuary for the two lovers.  During the summer of 1914, Mamah and her two children were butchered to death by a disgruntled servant, who set Taliesin on fire and killed some other workers as well.

Maude Miriam Noel Wright

Miriam and Wright met after she wrote him a letter of her condolences after the death of Mamah.  She is painted as a vindictive and somewhat psychotic woman in The Women.   She and Wright were about the same age and were finally able to marry in the early 20’s after Kitty consented to a divorce.  She eventually left Frank but they remained married as he began his relationship with his third wife, Olgivanna.

Olga Ivanovna Wright

Olgivanna met Wright as a young mother.  She divorced her first husband and was eventually married to Wright after he was granted a divorce from Miriam.  However, before they were able to marry, Olgivanna and Wright had a daughter, Iovanna.  Once again, Wright’s romantic escapades cast him inthe public limelight.  Taliesin II (built after the original was destroyed during the murder of Mamah Cheney) was burned substantially at this time as well and again rebuilt.  Olgivanna and Wright remained married until Wright’s death in 1959.

The Women was a wonderfuly woven story that fascinated from beginning to end.  Wright was an intriguing man whose romantic endeavors are almost unbelievable

Other Reviews:

Books for Breakfast–Book Reviews with a Twist

Life is a Patchwork Quilt

I borrowed this book from my local library.

12 Responses

  1. This is near the top of my tbr pile… can’t wait!!

  2. I loved The Inner Circle by TC Boyle, but haven’t got round to reading any other books. The Women sounds great – I’ve added it to my wishlist.

  3. I’ve really enjoyed T.C. Boyle’s short stories, but I’ve never read a novel. This one looks fantastic to me, and I still want to read Loving Frank. So many books!

  4. Have you read Loving Frank? I thought that was good,soImay try this one as well;thanks so much.

    I LOVED Tortilla Curtain by Boyle.

  5. Great post! I have Loving Fran on my tbr and I have seen The Women around. I didn’t realize that they were roughly about the same subject matter. I am intrigued now.

  6. My mom was just reading this book and raving about it but didn’t say much about it … thanks for the scoop on it … quite a dramatic love life he had!

  7. What did you think of this book compared to “Loving Frank”? I like that you found pictures of all the “Women” for this post!

  8. I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out, especially after I read Loving Frank. Sounds like it will be worth the wait!

  9. I’m a fan of Boyle, but I really didn’t like Drop City. It’s the only book that I’ve read of his that I didn’t like. I enjoyed The Women a lot, especially knowing that he lives in one of Lloyd’s houses. It’s so interesting.

  10. I adored “Loving Frank” and “The Women” is quickly becoming a close second- but, goodness, isn’t it hard to read about Frank Lloyd Wright so much! I was completely sucked into his life’s story after following Mamah Cheney’s tale, but by page 3 of “The Women” I couldn’t take his personality anymore. How he was able to convince so many women to drop everything and be with him is beyond me… Still, I suppose even arrogant geniuses have fans :)

  11. YFR I agree, I am completely astounded that he was able to convince those women to just conform to his lifestyle. He seemed like a complete asshat at times. But there is something really attractive about creative people.

  12. Thanks for the blog. Just bought the book and was intrigued to learn more about the women in the book. Pictures help me visualize them more clearly.

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