I have just read a book by T C Boyle called The Women. It’s the story of the women in Frank Lloyd Wright’s life written from the perspective of one of his apprentices and subsequently translated by that apprentice’s son-in-law. It takes a wee bit of getting into and if, like me, you don’t know the story of these women and their lives, there’s an occasional ‘aha’ moment as the story rewinds itself.
I was struck by the flamboyant ignorance exhibited by FLW as to the effect of his actions, but also the struggle of all of them, especially Mamah to live a life outside the binds of the conventional life (and how often the aptly named Mann Act also known as the White Slave Trafficking Act is invoked).
Mamah is translating the work of a Swedish ‘feminist’ Ellen Key and in this we see the early 20th century notions that women should live their own lives, not those of men. It’s ironic that she is most famous for her relationship with FLW and her subsequent murder.
Miriam is portrayed as a drug addicted woman of small brain and much desperation and Kitty a strong woman of firm principles.
And on the mention of apt names, Wright is would appear, believed himself to be just that. But then if you look at his buildings and feel the effect of his work you have to say that his work is wonderful. I have not seen the California or Prairie houses but their images evoke that early 20th century simplicity and need to connect with nature.
It’s an intriguing novel and alerted me to a facet of American life I had not much considered. Makes me want to discover more about this man and his buildings and, of course, these women.