Book Review: Loving Frank

I just finished reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. I received this book as a gift almost a year ago, but wasn't sure what it was about, so I set it aside. Recently, Tiffany was talking about The Women, which she had just read & the conversation turned to Loving Frank. She couldn't believe I hadn't read it yet.

From the back of the book:

"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.

I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did because: a) I'm not a huge Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast & b) Most of my friends "liked" the book, not loved it. Well, I daresay, I loved it. It was a little slow-going in the middle, but by the end, I couldn't put it down.

I really enjoyed getting to know the main character, Mamah (May-muh). I've never given a whole lot of thought about what it was like to be a woman in the early 1900's & Horan writes Mamah's story in a way that makes you think, but doesn't push any views on you one way or another. She does a good job of writing objectively about the decisions Mamah makes, a lot of which I had a hard time wrapping my head around.

I don't know how to put this delicately, but Frank Lloyd Wright is a dick. I somehow did not know this about him. This love affair that he & Mamah have is bizarre & disconcerting, but by the end, you're somehow glad that it appears to be working out. Speaking of the end, the end of this book will rip your heart out. I literally gasped & read the entire last chapter with my hand over my heart. I did not see that coming.

This book is historical fiction, but it's pretty factual. At the end of the paperback version I have, Horan explains how she wrote it. The book is based on a factual timeline that was apparently easy to trace. She also had lots of letters, diaries, etc, so she was able to piece a lot of things together. She says the fiction part is where she embellished dialogue, etc., but not events or people. Everything that happened in the book, actually happened, which kind of blows my mind.

Anyway, now I'm completely obsessed & want to travel to Wisconsin to see Taliesin. Apparently there are Loving Frank tours. My friend Haylee just moved to Chicago & she offered to host a group of us if we want to go take the Frank Lloyd Wright tour in Oak Park, which I really want to do.

I really enjoyed this book & definitely recommend it. 4 stars!

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