Publisher's Note:  

I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current.

So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.

In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright.

Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion.

Elegantly written and remarkably rich in detail, Loving Frank is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman, a national icon, and their timeless love story.

Loving Frank: A Novel

by Nancy Horan

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Overall Review:  

I am feeling a little blue about this book. I thought I would love it, since I have always been fascinated by Frank Lloyd Wright and his architecture. So endeared am I to his work that I have visited a house he designed multiple times throughout my life--sometimes several times in one year. I've only seen this one house of his, but I remember loving all the little details and the seeming love and care Mr. Wright put into his work. Well, this book gave me a different view on Mr. Wright, his family, and his family life.


Right away I could tell this book was going to be a little disappointing, maybe even hurtful. Imagine having a role model you looked up to your whole life, and then discovering a dirty little secret they have and being crushed because you start to lose respect for them.  Yes, that's how I felt once I started reading this book and getting a detailed look at the lifestyle of Frank Lloyd Wright. I was not impressed. This man who I had idolized a little bit for much of my life was an adulterer, a liar, and a cheat? What will I learn next, that he was a convicted felon? I cried a little bit on the inside.


Instead of spending the entire book feeling sorry for myself, I focused on the things I did and didn't like about all the new found knowledge I gleaned. I also found myself thinking a lot about the life Mr. Wright and his family had, and how I would feel if I were a part of all of the drama going on. Although this book had information that was a bit of a shock, I do know that I can't always live in the bliss of ignorance. Sometimes we all have to face the music, and thankfully, in this case, what I learned in this book didn't affect me directly. It just made me feel bad for liking a guy who could treat others the way he did.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  4 religious exclamations; 5 mild obscenities; 4 derogatory names; 2 scatological words; 1 anatomical term; 1 F-Word derivative.


Violence/Gore:  A character is mentioned to die from heart disease; verbal threats are made; a woman bleeds to death in childbirth; a man attacks a woman physically; a woman is mentioned to kill chickens to eat; a fire occurs, some brief description of injuries is given, multiple people die; a character threatens another with an axe, it is not clear whether or not he uses the axe to injure her, but it is implied that he did; a character dies from injuries sutained from a fire and perhaps being struck by an axe.


Sex/Nudity:  Nudity is mentioned in a sexual way; adults kiss; an affair is mentioned; love making is mentioned to occur; love making between unmarried adults is described in two brief scenes with some touching and caressing mentioned but no explicit detail; a woman is mentioned to breast feed her child, nude breasts are briefly mentioned in a non-sexual way.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, divorce, personal crises, death of a parent, adultery.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults drink; adults smoke.

Reviewed By Lydia
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