Finished reading this today. As usual, Boyle's exquisite prose makes this book worthwhile. It tells the story of Frank Lloyd Wright and his 3 wives and mistress, Mamah Cheney. Previous to reading this book, I knew practically nothing about Wright other than that he was considered probably the greatest architect of the last century. I didn't realize he had so much public scandal relating to his mistresses and wives! Wright's genius kind of gets lost in the narrative - the book is divided into 3 sections and is told in reverse chronological order (which is somewhat confusing). The first section is about Olgivanna, his 3rd wife; the second section about Miriam Noel, his 2nd wife; and the third section is about Mamah Cheney, his mistress that he eloped to Europe with while still married to his first wife, Kitty. I have to admit that as much as I like Boyle's writing, I thought this book got bogged down in some places - especially when Miriam (a morphine addict) is the focus of the narrative. Also, the narrator for the story is a Japanese apprentice of Wrights who does have some nice introductions to each section but I thought was rather annoying with information provided in footnotes as asides to the story. I thought the book would have been better and less confusing if told in chronological order. Boyle may have used this device so the tragic conclusion and fate of Mamah Cheney is at the end of the novel. In any event, I think Boyle has written much better novels and stories but I would still give this one a mild recommendation. It definitely gave some insights into the life of a revered American.
This novel is based on actual events in the personal life of Frank Lloyd Wright. It is at times salacious, hilarious and sad. Its a very good read. If you want to know about Wrights life as an architect, this is not your book. What it does offer is a look into what did and might have happened when Wright was hounded by the press and sometimes the law over the decisions he made with his romantic relationships.