November 30, 2008

Loving Frank - Nancy Horan

Loving Frank was a book I had seen in bookshops and had been drawn to - partly because of it's stunning front cover, a beautiful depiction of a stained glass light designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I then had a recommendation from Nutmeg who was reading the book for her bookclub and really enjoying it so I decided to go ahead and pick it up.

Loving Frank tells the story of the love affair and relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright, renowned American architect of the early 1900's and Mamah (pronounced May-Mah) Borthwick Cheney, a feminist scholar. Both Frank and Mamah were married at the time of their meeting - Frank was hired to design a house for Mamah and her husband, Edwin.

This novel is a fictionalised account of the story but Nancy Horan has used many sources in putting together her account of this story (a list of which she provides at the end of the book). The voices in the novel come through strongly - I had some rough ideas of the course of the real story before reading this novel but I have to admit that most of my knowledge centered around Frank Lloyd Wright - I knew he had had an affair and a long term relationship with a married woman whilst he himself was still married but I had never known anything about the identity of this woman and her place in the world. I think it is fantastic that Nancy Horan has chosen to centre this story not only on the relationship between Frank and Mamah but she has also given Mamah her own strong voice and story.

It was very interesting to have read this novel just after finishing Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In Loving Frank a major focus of the story is the battle Mamah goes through, both with herself and people close to her, about the need for her to establish her own identity and profession separate from the men in her life and her children. For the time in which Mamah lived (the early 1900's) this was seen as quite a radical idea to pursue and one that Mamah was quite clearly punished by society for.

Loving Frank is a wonderfully written and expressed novel - definitely recommended.


Laura said...

I keep seeing this book at bookstores as well. Yours is the first review I've read, and I'm glad to know you liked it!

Karen said...

Hi Laura - I absolutely loved this book! Would definitely recommend it.

Anonymous said...

I almost bought this today but changed my mind at the last moment... maybe I will have to go back and get it now.

The cover of the UK paperback isn't particularly nice though...

Karen said...

Hi Kimbofo - I would definitely recommend this one if you like books focusing on womens historical and personal stories - really interesting and thought provoking.
Isn't it funny how we rely on how book covers look to inform us about what the book might be like? I do this all the time.

nutmeg said...

Gosh you are a fast reader! I am very glad to hear you liked it.

It is also interesting to read what Kimbofo said about the UK cover as that is the one I have because I ordered it from I like the cover you have printed here - the one I have is a stylised picture of a woman's back. A bit too close to being seen as a "romance novel" - which I can definitely say it is not ;-)

Karen said...

Hi Nutmeg - I think the rate I am getting through books at the moment indicates how much attention I am not giving to other areas of my life!!

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