Building Taliesin.

Author:Eakin, Julie
Position:Book review

Ron McCrea (author); BUILDING TALIESIN; Wisconsin Historical Society Press (Nonfiction: Architecture) 35.00 ISBN: 9780870206061

Byline: Julie Eakin

Ron McCrea's Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright's Home of Love and Loss covers the years from 1910 through 1914, the period during which the architect conceived and built his masterpiece in the hills of Wisconsin, accompanied by his mistress, Mamah Borthwick; that she was also murdered there, along with her two children and several visitors, was the love story's horrifying end.

This comprehensive book is clearly a labor of love on the author's part (he even includes a photograph of his wife and himself at the subjects' hillside retreat above Florence, where the idea of Taliesin was born). The straightforward narrative reads like a detective's notes, and in the accounting of each research discovery one senses the author's delight.

A scrap-book-like format displays a wealth of fascinating information, especially in the form of a series of recently discovered photographs by draftsman Taylor Woolley depicting the house under construction. Evident in these warm black-and- white images is the aura of a most lovely dream realized as both a professional and personal accomplishment by Wright. Almost sketch-like in their appearance is another extraordinary set of panoramic photographs by Wright himself of the valleys characterizing the land he had known as a child and would develop to great acclaim.

However, also owing at least in part to the book's format is an unfortunate sense of fragmentation that characterizes the entire effort. The reader is fairly assaulted with a barrage of reproduced documents, albeit usually handsomely displayed, from letters to illustrations to photographs, plus quotes from newspaper accounts -- without a strong foundation on which to tack all this information. McCrea never provides the equivalent of an...

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