Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders by William R. Drennan

Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders is my June Kewaunee Library Book Club selection. It was a very interesting book to read. I really don't know that much about Frank Lloyd Wright. I knew he he was an architect who designs buildings that fall down that Ben talks about and that he had something to do with Wisconsin. I guess Ben and I had gone to the Church of the Cross that he designed in Sedona Arizona and that was beautiful. Jenn and I had driven by Taliesin about 7 years ago or so when we were taking a trip to Wisconsin.

What I discovered in this book is that I don't really like Frank Lloyd Wright. Like many brillant, artistic men, he was pretty messed up. He had a loving wife and six children. One day in 1909 he decided that his houses were his children and he didn't feel very fatherly and that he was going to run away with a client's wife, Mamah Cheney to Europe. He left his practice, his family, everything. He came back to Chicago and stayed with his wife for a bit just to get enough money to build his "love cottage" near Spring Green, Wisconsin, which eventually became Taliesin. He and Mamah moved there, much to the local people's dismay. Taliesin also served as a studio for Wright and his apprentices.

In 1914, a servant named Julian, brutally killed seven adults and children at Taliesin and burned it down. Included were Mamah and her two children. Frank Lloyd Wright was in Chicago working on a building at the time. The author explores the theories behind what happened, but there is no conclusive "Why?" ever answered. He also explores how this cataclismic event in Frank Lloyd Wright's life forever changed his architectural style.

It was a very interesting book and I highly recommend it if you are interested in reading history, love a good mystery, or want to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright.

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