Loving Frank

I really, really, really liked this book. I don’t know why I was so reluctant to read it. It was recommended to me many times (it won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for best historical fiction). Sometimes I should really pay attention to what people tell me. Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan (published by Random House) is the story of Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress Mamah Borthwick Cheney.  Mamah and her husband Edwin Cheney hired Wright to design a house for them in Oak Park Illinois. And from the moment Mamah laid eyes on Wright she was enchanted with this grand figure of a man who could charm anyone who crossed his path. One thing led to another and they soon became lovers in an era when affairs could completely destroy the lives of everyone involved. This book isn’t about sex. It’s not what my friend calls a “bodice ripper”. In fact, there’s hardly any mention of it at all. It’s about the lives of Frank and his wife and family, and Mamah and her husband and children. Part of the story is set in Germany and Italy, where Frank & Mamah escape to avoid the scrutiny of prying eyes at home while Frank works at increasing his exposure to the world at large. They eventually return home and settle in Minnesota, Frank’s family’s home turf. Part of the book deals with Mamah trying to find herself, prove her worth and she gets involved with the feminist movement of the time.  All the while, she is constantly thinking of her children she abandoned when she left to follow Frank to Europe.  I didn’t know much about Frank Lloyd Wright before reading this except for his architecture. Read this book you’ll never look at him with the same eyes again. It is an engrossing read. I couldn’t put it down.  And I bet you won’t be able to either.

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