Loving Frank: A Novel


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She abandons her children when they need her most so she can become a mistress to Frank Floyd Wright. In other words, she's infatuated, drunken with passion, but not deeply in love. Not committed.


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She tells her kids, "I'm going on a small vacation [that lasts two years]…just for me. And who was that other guy with you on vacation? Her decision is, in her estimation, not "cruel self-indulgence" but "love for life. Besides everything else, Mamah's husband, Edwin, is simply a terrific guy.

Given the choice--and perhaps a sex-change operation-- I wouldn't have minded marrying him myself. And then, given the life of leisure his profession afforded, I'd indulge my feminist whims. Mamah's feminism certainly didn't seem enhanced or facilitated by Frank. She supposedly loved Frank with every "cell in her body. I wonder. She threatens to leave him if he doesn't change. Yet doesn't he mold her just the way he wants her?

Frank tells her she makes him "want to be a better man," but all the while he remains deceitful and arrogant, manipulating and lording it over people that work for him, people for whom he works, and his family. When my wife and I left the West and our family roots for Illinois, we said goodbye to a sheltered existence for one out there, more enlightened and more free.

We made the trip together, with our daughter. While it was frowned upon where we came from for a mother to work and to leave a child with a babysitter in order to pursue work, my wife did so, not altogether happy about it. And I think all of us, including my daughter profited by it. Loving Frank is a book that posits infatuation and self-love over against enduring, sacrificial love. No matter the era, in my estimation, the stamina to stay wins out over caprice and whimsy.

Enduring love trumps infatuation and lust. Fling or family? I enjoyed reading and thinking about this a lot. View all 4 comments.

Loving Frank

Sep 21, Susan rated it liked it. To be intellectual and well spoken and creative; in short, to not be just a mom, as I am most days. I thought Mamah was incredible; her self-discovery so moving. But as the book progressed, I started to like her less and less. And Frank Lloyd Wright I never found an endearing character.

Pompous ass, yes. I didn't think either of them were justified in their actions and I certainly couldn't get behind her heartbreak about her children. She should feel guilty and she got no sympathy from me. She made the choice. Another review I read wondered about the message of what makes a better parent - the present, but emotionally bereft one, or the absent one living a full life. I didn't think Mamah was either. Her life was full once she left, but only full of her and I don't think the children benefited from it.

And definitely not in the long run! How gruesome. I'm glad I did some reading up on Mamah before I reached the end of the novel, so at least I knew it was coming. The writing itself was quite solid for the most part. The romantic dialogue, however, was just painful, as were any of the "mushier" passages, whether it was Mamah reflecting on Frank or the last part where he reflected on her. It took away from what was quite interesting otherwise. I don't remember any of this getting mentioned, so it's interesting that the social niceties still must be observed in that little town, even after all these years.

Jun 19, Schmacko rated it liked it. I read Nancy Horan's debut book, because in a few days I will be up in Wisconsin very near some of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous works. This relationship broke up two marriages and filled papers with scandal, as the couple ran away to Europe and then came to build their famous home, Taliesin, in Wisconsin.

Some books, I can concede are perfectly well-writte I read Nancy Horan's debut book, because in a few days I will be up in Wisconsin very near some of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous works. Some books, I can concede are perfectly well-written books, and yet I still am not their target audience.

I felt I had a good book I was not built to enjoy.

Loving Frank by by Nancy Horan: Summary and reviews

Loving Frank does deftly weave facts about FLW's and Mameh Borthwick's culture and history in the late s and early s. Horan formulates a clear feeling for their post-Victorian lives in Oak Park, Illinois. There is also a strong sense that many of the letters, newspaper articles, and correspondence are based in truth, if not verbatim. Horan is also fairly deft at describing the ideas or concepts of Wright's design.

Though, admittedly, Horan is better at the metaphor than she is at the practical description of his buildings. I found myself looking up pictures online to understand what Horan meant by her poetic turns of structural phrase. Also, Wright's full history and affect on American architecture are only scattered piecemeal throughout the book, requiring the reader to formulate a biographical timeline that doesn't exist in the book.

Perhaps the best part of the book is that Loving Frank helps the reader ponder important questions of about feminism, marriage, and self-destiny. So, why was I frustrated reading this book? Much of the book is framed as an angst-riddled romantic novel. Wright and Borthwick spend so many pages wallowing in their lovelorn conundrums that the emotions start to feel like a second-rate Wuthering Heights.

Also, Horan has a journalism background, and yet she is not concise or to-the-point. Loving Frank is fairly indirect and long-winded. It is as if the larger picture of this famous relationship got lost in reporting on the minutiae — every telegraph and newspaper article. Many chapters blather on as some variation of the chapters before; nothing new is raised, or if it is, it ends up being inconsequential to the whole story.

Breaking away

Many people would love this book. They would find such tangential and thorough emotional writing a joy to explore. They would sink themselves into such a book, reveling in the details, feeling as if they really got to know everything about these two interesting historical figures. I found myself digging for new information, new insight, data outside of the drippy emotions.

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These things I longed for are buried somewhere deep in there, in between the long bouts of romance and long paragraphs of navel-gazing reflection and guilt-riddled self-flagellation, on a few of the pages of this chapter, page book. I could have just done without the bodice-ripping sections. View all 6 comments. Feb 04, Dorie - Traveling Sister : rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction. They began their affair when Mamah and her then husband Edwin Cheney commissioned Wright to build their Oak Park home.

Their attraction was immediate and continued until Mamah became pregnant with a daughter. Not too long after her daughter was born, they commenced their clandestine affair. Eventually they moved to Europe, each leaving behind families and lived in Europe for 2 years. Mamah sought to find her true self, her own calling in the world, marked by choices that reshape her as a person. Wright is commissioned to build a portfolio which he works on diligently. They both long for their children but feel that they are deeply in love and cannot leave each other.

The story was well written and told about this woman in Wright's life who deeply impacted him and his work. She is usually ignored in the biographies of Wright. When they move to Wisconsin and build their home there is always the press seeking them out while they strive for privacy. Eventually Edwin gives Mamah a divorce and allows the children to visit in summer. Wright visits his children rarely in Oak Park although his oldest son is now working with him.

The end of the story is tragic and unpredictable. I would highly recommend this book and will look forward to more books from this author. Oct 29, Karen rated it it was ok. I think the main characters are pompous, pretentious, and the "love" story overwrought and pointless. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if the author treated the characters as if she knew this was how they appeared, but she seemed to be taking the whole thing very seriously.

And since most of the book is fabricated, I can't help but blame the author for turning a grown-up affair into some kind of adolescent "meeting of the minds", "my one true love and soulmate" experience.

Read Your Library with Stephanie Thompson, Ep. 19: Loving Frank
Loving Frank: A Novel Loving Frank: A Novel
Loving Frank: A Novel Loving Frank: A Novel
Loving Frank: A Novel Loving Frank: A Novel
Loving Frank: A Novel Loving Frank: A Novel
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