Women

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9780143117032: Women

In a rural backwater in Wisconsin lies the rambling estate of Taliesin. Here, tempestuous affairs rage behind closed doors, broken hearts are tossed aside and fires have ripped through the wings of the house. Paparazzi lie in wait outside the front door, hounding for the latest scandal, the latest tragedy in this never-ending drama. For this is the home of the great architect of the twentieth century, Frank Lloyd Wright, a man of extremes in both his work and his private life: at once a force of nature - arrogant and infuriating - and an avalanche of need and emotion that sweeps aside everything in its path. This is the story of the wives and mistresses who fall under Frank's spell. There is the delusional Kitty, his first wife, convinced that his affair with the defiant Mamah can't possibly last. There is Miriam, his crazed, demented second wife, hell-bent on wreaking revenge most public and most vicious after the bitter demise of their marriage. And there is Oglivanna, the Serbian immigrant, who waits with Frank in constant terror for the next wave of desolation from Miriam as she stalks them at every turn, unleashing a torrent of sheriffs, immigration officials, bankers, lawyers and journalists. Sharp, savage and subtle in equal measure, The Women plumbs the chaos, horrors and uncontainable passions of a fascinating American icon.

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Review:

TC Boyle has long validated his credentials as one of the most individual writers at work today, with a style and a vision quite unlike that of any of his contemporaries. The Women, his latest book, will add even more lustre to his reputation. It’s a novel that brings to mind the pressure-cooker narratives of William Faulkner, though its subject could not be more different: the life and loves of the most famous of the great American architects, Frank Lloyd Wright.

The imposing estate of Taliesen is a noted feature of rural Wisconsin, and it’s a place where the passions – of all kinds – run high. Reporters haunt the property, hungry for more revelations guaranteed to sell newspapers – because Taliesen is the home of the celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright. As well as being the most famous architect of his country in the twentieth century, his celebrity was (and is) world-wide. But his messy private life (as reproduced in Boyle’s novel) is a considerable source of interest and scandal along with his massive artistic achievements. His first wife, Kitty, lives in a world of her own, persuading herself that his other amours are transitory. Then there is his mistress, the passionate and strong-willed Mamah. And there is his deranged second wife, Miriam. And if this weren’t enough of a powder keg, also stirred into the heady brew is Oglivanna, a Serbian immigrant, who shares most closely the turbulence and terror of the architect’s jumbled private life, with Miriam a kind of avenging fury, enlisting a host of pretty officials to get her way. It’s a remarkable scenario (narrated by one of the architect’s apprentices), and Boyle gives it incandescent life, with the character of Frank Lloyd Wright brilliantly conjured at the heart of the unlikely – but compelling – narrative. --Barry Forshaw

Review:

'The prose is sparkling, the narrative gripping, and the material to die for' -- Tom Gatti, The Times

`A fascinating companion to the many conventional biographies on the man Tadashi calls `the guiding light and enduring genius of all working architects, past, present and future' -- Ian Haydn Smith, Time Out

`Boyle ratchets up every ounce of tension from the story. It's a stunning achievement' -- Amber Pearson, The Daily Mail

`The Women is gripping, enormously entertaining, and written with deliberately melodramatic gusto. -- Lionel Shriver, Telegraph,

`This is a ripper ... Consistently vivid prose ... This is a great broadside of terrific writing and stringently recreated characterisation'
-- Toby Clements, The Telegraph

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