T.C. Boyle’s “best book in ages” is the second novel in two years to make hay of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s complicated romantic life, said Mark Schechner in The Buffalo News. But the wiseguy author of The Road to Wellville knows how to put his own stamp on a story. This time he describes the parade of women in Wright’s life in reverse chronological order, writing with particular gusto about the great man’s second wife, Miriam, a morphine-addicted beauty who fascinated the press and terrorized Wright after he threw her over.
But Boyle makes Miriam a “ridiculous” figure, said Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times. In fact, all four of Wright’s lovers in this book come off as “self-dramatizing whiners or divas” rather than complex characters. Boyle has turned a fascinating true story into “a small, cheesy, paint-by-the-numbers soap opera.”
Maybe it’s better not to know much about the real characters, said John Freeman in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. Boyle’s aim is to capture the “rolling storm front” an egotist can create in his determination “to live outside conventions.” The novel’s “troubled, tough-minded” women easily overshadow the man at the storm’s eye.