A Selection of Barnes & Noble Recommends
A revelatory view of a genius creator, his wives and his lovers….
In this dazzling historical novel, master architect Frank Lloyd Wright comes alive through the words of four women he loved. Their voices are radically dissimilar: Montenegrin ballerina Olgivanna Milanoff; tempestuous southern belle Maud Miriam Noel; free-spirited, tragically fated Mamah Cheney; and artist Kitty Tobin, Wright's first wife. In The Women, adventurous novelist T. C. Boyle (The Road to Wellville; The Inner Circle) exposes Wright's deep-seeded resistance to convention in every arena of his life.
Boyle doesn't just fiddle around with familiar biographical material. He inhabits the space of Wright's life and times with particular boldness…With his rollicking short fiction and with novels that include The Road to Wellville, The Inner Circle and Drop City, Boyle has been writing his own fascinating, unpredictable, alternately hilarious and terrifying fictional history of utopian longing in America. The Women adds a powerful new chapter to this continuing narrative, and it is Boyle at his best. It is a mesmerizing story of women who invest everything, at great risk, in that mysterious "bank of feeling" named Frank Lloyd Wright.
The New York Times
The Women is an altogether manic, occasionally baffling and yet strangely riveting novel…Boyle is a marvel at descriptive prose…So you go on, from scene to scene, marveling at a turn of phrase or some well-articulated emotion. As with a fickle lover, it's the words that keep you there.
The Washington Post
Rising and falling in steady rhythm, soothing even when the story unsettles and surprises, Grover Gardner's voice is a fine instrument. He delivers a stellar rendition of Boyle's reimagining of Frank Lloyd Wright's tortured relationships with his wives and lovers-and his obsession with Taliesin, his home in Wisconsin, which suffered no less than the architect or his women. Gardner, a regular prize-winner who's done more than 650 audiobooks, is familiar to audio listeners, but he strikes new notes, hurdling over difficult names and nimbly skipping from character to character. Readers will be entirely immersed in the hothouse world of the architect and his women. A Viking hardcover(Reviews, Nov. 17).(Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In his trademark style, Boyle (www.tcboyle.com) uses a fictional narrator to tell the story of an American original: Frank Lloyd Wright, that flamboyant genius of 20th-century architecture. The tale unfolds through the experiences of four women who loved Wright: the Montenegrin beauty Olgivanna Milanoff, the passionate Maude Miriam Noel, the spirited Mamah Borthwick Cheney, and Wright's devoted first wife, Catherine "Kitty" Tobin. Narrator Grover Gardner, a Publishers WeeklyNarrator of the Year (2005), navigates the complicated story line with ease, reading with a distinctive clipped accent that could almost be Japanese (the novel's narrator is Wright apprentice Tadashi Sato, newly arrived from Japan). An excellent choice for fans of popular and literary fiction. [Audio clip available through www.blackstoneaudio.com; the Viking hc was recommended "for most fiction collections," LJ12/08.—Ed.]—Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL
Nann Blaine Hilyard
When the artist formerly known as T. Coraghessan Boyle burst onto the national literary scene some 30 years ago, readers knew immediately that an immensely smart, versatile and entertaining new writer was staking his claim to some of the territory held by such reader-friendly wizards of narrative and rhetoric as Kurt Vonnegut and Donald Barthelme. To put it another way, Susan Sontag's sonorous declamations about the cultural legitimacy of "camp" found a lively correlative in the stories of Boyle's first collection Descent of Man (1979)-six more have followed. Who could resist crisp, in-your-face tales about the wretched excesses of pillaging Norsemen, or the spectacle of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin disporting himself at a Dadaist arts festival? Then, before we'd all stopped chuckling, Boyle produced his richly imagined and detailed debut novel Water Music (1981), in which historical Scottish explorer Mungo Park's African exploits became the vehicle for vivid observations and riffs on the nature of intellectual adventuring, heroism and arduously acquired self-knowledge. Boyle's subsequent novels have ranged from visions of fear and loathing in California's drug culture to the perils of the Internet-and commanded especially high visibility when reinterpreting well-known American success-and-failure stories, notably in deft fictionalizations of the complicated lives of cereal-king health faddist John Harvey Kellogg (The Road to Wellville, 1993) and innovative sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (The Inner Circle, 2004). The Women, Boyle's 12th novel, tackles another flawed American icon: the great architect and world-class egomaniac Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), whose unique accomplishments wererepeatedly compromised because-as this novel's narrator informs us-"throughout his life, especially in times of duress, [Wright] sought the company of women." That narrator-Japanese architectural student Sato Tadashi, who becomes one of numerous "acolytes" laboring unpaid at Wright's huge Wisconsin estate Taliesin-tells, in reverse order, the stories of Wright's four great loves: the Montenegrin beauty (Olgivanna) who succeeds his fiery Southern mistress Maude Miriam Noel (a madder, more vituperative Zelda Fitzgerald), Wright's soul mate Mamah Cheney (whom he appropriates from her husband and children) and first wife Kitty, displaced by Mamah (who, like the doomed edifice of Taliesin, seems chosen to pay for the adulterous genius's sins). All of Boyle's colorful skills are fully engaged in his latest (as, to be fair, are his tendencies toward redundancy and overemphasis). It's a performance worthy of the writer who has, in interviews and on his informative website, acknowledged the influences of Flannery O'Connor, Evelyn Waugh and Gabriel Garc'a Marquez. I'd argue that Dickens and Shakespeare also must loom prominently in the imagination of a writer so adept at the creation of improbably beguiling comic grotesques. And Boyle's warmhearted, coldly calculating, ineffably seductive and unknowable Frank Lloyd Wright may be the most beguiling of them all.