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The Women: A Novel | [T. C. Boyle]

The Women: A Novel

Told through the experiences of the four women who loved him, this imaginative account of Frank Lloyd Wright's raucous life blazes with Boyle's trademark wit and invention. Boyle's protean voice captures these very different women and, in doing so, creates a masterful ode to the creative life in all its complexity and grandeur.
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Publisher's Summary

Frank Lloyd Wright's life was one long, howling struggle against the bonds of convention, whether aesthetic, social, moral, or romantic. He never did what was expected, and he never let anything get in the way of his larger-than-life appetites and visions.

Told through the experiences of the four women who loved him, this imaginative account of Wright's raucous life blazes with Boyle's trademark wit and invention. Boyle's protean voice captures these very different women and, in doing so, creates a masterful ode to the creative life in all its complexity and grandeur.

©2009 T. Coraghessan Boyle; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"America's most imaginative contemporary novelist." (Newsweek)

"One of the most inventive and verbally exuberant writers of his generation." (New York Times)

“The author is a master storyteller who takes literary license but never loses sight of his subject's humanity. Narrator Grover Gardner has a deep nasal tone that, remarkably, sounds like an old radio broadcaster's voice. This fits the mood of the book perfectly since the story takes place in the 1930s.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (268 )
5 star
 (53)
4 star
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3 star
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Overall
3.4 (107 )
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1 star
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Story
3.7 (105 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Diane BLACKSBURG, VA, United States 06-28-09
    Diane BLACKSBURG, VA, United States 06-28-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "didn't work for me"

    While I generally enjoy Boyle's writing and Gardner is a very good reader, this book just doesn't work for me, for several reasons. The book is organized in reverse order, so we start with Wright's last (third) wife Olgivanna, then a section on his second wife Miriam and then a third section about his mistress Mamah, while Wright was married to his first wife Kitty. By the time I finished the section on Olgivanna, I knew as much as I wanted to about Miriam and couldn't finish the second section, so I skipped to section 3. What was the rationale for organizing the book this way? I think it detracts, rather than adds, to the story.

    I have an issue with the narrator, who is supposedly one of Wright's apprentices. I realize this is a work of fiction, but Wright and Olgivanna were married in 1927 or 1928 and the apprenticeship program did not begin until 1932. Thus there's some contradiction between actual and fictional events, but I can handle that. What's more problematic is that so many events in the book occurred before the narrator arrived on the scene. His "involvement" in the later sections of the book is minimal, as you might expect, which then begs the question: why use this narrator at all?

    If you enjoy listening to Boyle, you'll probably like this -- I really enjoyed the first section of the book. Then it got tedious, and overall, just a little too long for me (even skipping most of section 2).

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca brentwood, CA, United States 06-13-09
    Rebecca brentwood, CA, United States 06-13-09 Member Since 2007

    Daily Dog Walker and LONG Silicon Valley commutes, so I gulp through and love lotsa books, especially literary fiction and Mystery.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Best of Boyle"

    So in a book about an architect (or rather around said architect's muses), I spent more time pondering the architure of the book itself than I might typically -- not because of the profession of the man, but because the structure of the book is questionable, and only after completing it did I realized why Boyle made the choices he did.Yet to have a reader wondering midstream why the author is choosing a weird chronology is akin to wondering why an Architect walks you into a bedroom before the kitchen.

    2 quick things - I've never been a huge Boyle fan, I think because I've always felt a bit of authorial disdain when it comes to his character treatment, and less focus on characters than on other elements of his novels. In this novel I appreciated Boyle's care of and for all of his subjects, and the depth in which they are rendered is appreciated.

    I'm of a generation that knows who Frank Lloyd Wright is, knows his clean/modern lines but little else about his chaotic life. This isn't the book to educate a reader about his work, but it's a book with enough narrative pull that it creates the desire in someone like me to know more about the work that the character in the novel created, which I also think is a huge compliment to the author.

    Because I had no knowledge of Wright's personal life, I was not able to guess in advance why Boyle started with the fourth woman, moved to the third, interjected the first occasionally and closed the book with the fourth until the dramatic, murder-capped denouement. Of course Woman #2's Demise was too dramatic to insert into the middle of the book! But the very fact that I wondered, to me indicates Boyle wasn't quite successful in "arting" around the reordering of the women and the life. Valiant effort though- inserting a distinct narrator (Japanese architecture student) for much of the book helped deflect musings about chronology, but not defeat them.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvonne Twentynine Palms, CA, USA 07-12-09
    Yvonne Twentynine Palms, CA, USA 07-12-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not just one, but three women behind the man..."

    Frank Lloyd Wright is well known for setting new standards in architectural design. This book tells of how he pushed the envelope on social and even moral issues of his time - mistresses, divorces, equality of the sexes and races... The narrative is told by one of his apprentices in a very unique third party tale whose chronology jumps back and forth.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Carolina Beach, NC, United States 07-07-12
    Richard Carolina Beach, NC, United States 07-07-12 Member Since 2007

    I'm a voracious reader who unfortunately spends a lot of time on the road. Audiobooks make my life a lot better.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sorry, but..."

    I think it is important that this is the ONLY audiobook to which I stopped listening after only an hour and never went back to. It just didn't seem that interesting. I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone else -- maybe it's because I'm a fiction geek for the most part, and reality just doesn't interest me as much. Maybe I'll try it again later, but I cannot recommend this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandee Marble Falls, TX, United States 04-09-12
    Sandee Marble Falls, TX, United States 04-09-12 Member Since 2011
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    "The Dysfinctional Life of F L Wright and his Women"
    What made the experience of listening to The Women the most enjoyable?

    Even though I felt like Frank Lloyd Wright was an opportunist and his outright abuse of the women and people in his life, the story was compelling enough to keep listening to the book.


    Would you be willing to try another book from T. C. Boyle? Why or why not?

    Yes, I would. He is so descriptive in his story line and he drew you into the story.


    What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I think he made the book much easier to follow than if I had been reading it. I can see where reading the book would have been much more difficult to follow. Mr Gardner was an extraordinary narrator in his performance. I would definitely want to listen to other books narrated by him.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When he was in China and his paramour for the moment left him and traveled into the mountains to get away from Frank. Then the letter writing back and forth between the two and then Mr. Wright showing up on her doorstep, and the two spending some time together alone before they went back to Hong Kong. He had an uncanny way of always getting his way.


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone interested in this book, I would recommend they listen to it rather than read it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherry Redlands, CA, United States 07-06-11
    Sherry Redlands, CA, United States 07-06-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Whiney Women and One Cocky Man"

    The only thing I liked about this book was that I learned a lot about Frank Lloyd Wright and his work. Unfortunately, he comes across as a modern day U.S. Congressman with his "I do what I want" attitude about life and especially women. Frank's women all come across as whiney and manipulative. I also did not like that the book is told from the last wife forward. At times it was difficult to follow. This was complicated by the footnotes being read in the text giving the book as feel of backtracking even more. While this footnote information was generally educational, it disrupted the flow of the book. I could barely finish this listen and wouldn't except that I needed something to entertain me on a really long road trip! Don't bother!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RM Simon 03-29-09
    RM Simon 03-29-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Disappointing"

    Nothing works. The device of the narrator--a fictitious FLW apprentice--falters and seems all but abandoned in the latter third; an inordinate and painful amount of the book is devoted to Miriam, the enraged, drug-addicted, vindictive second wife; all the characters are painted as deluded, selfish and manipulative. The story is told backwards for no discernible reason. I've listened to two other TC Boyle novels that are based on real stories. This is the least satisfying.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rkr4cds Upper Midwest 03-24-14
    rkr4cds Upper Midwest 03-24-14 Member Since 2010

    rkr4cds

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    "Confusing..."
    What disappointed you about The Women?

    This story line jumped around too much. Previously listened to the story about Taliesin & second wife. This is jumped into the middle of FLW's life and continued to ping-pong throughout.
    Boring—took too long to get into plot. Could not get interested in story; listened for 1 hour and at other points in books and did not get hooked. Have listened to other T C Boyle stories but will not waste $$ on another.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. L. Carr Kansas City, Mo USA 06-04-13
    K. L. Carr Kansas City, Mo USA 06-04-13 Member Since 2002

    Kt

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    "facinating"
    If you could sum up The Women in three words, what would they be?

    As an admirer of Wright's buildings, I found this book quite fascinating. It did take me a bit to figure out the backwards timeline.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frances Nobby beach, Australia 04-19-12
    Frances Nobby beach, Australia 04-19-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Novel of Frank Lloyd Wright"
    What did you love best about The Women?

    The introduction to Frank Lloyd's Wrights work and life


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Women?

    TCBoyle use of sato to narrate the story


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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