Friday, January 2, 2009

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

From the publisher's website: "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.

This was an interesting read. I expected a book about Frank Lloyd Wright and his work with a little love story on the side; what I got was the full-blown love story of his affair with Mamah and a nod every now and again to his work. The Catholic girl that I am could not really enjoy the love story because they (FLW and Mamah) both had intact marriages to start with and were really acting selfishly as they pursued each other. I especially didn't like the older lady character who becomes Mamah's mentor of a sorts and preaches about free love. She was really the anti-thesis of my own beliefs about marriage and commitment. But the story was compelling, I couldn't put the book down. Those who know FLW will know that there is an unbelievable (but true!) ending to the affair. I knew nothing about FLW going in and so had no idea this was coming and was mightily shocked.

The book spurred me on to Google a bit and see photos of the houses he designed and to find out that he went on to have two more wives. I appreciate FLW as an artist - his designs are timeless and appealing. Although, from what I know so far, he's an ass using his genius as an excuse to be an ass. But he's an interesting ass and there's another book about him coming out that I think I may have to pick up!

This book was a pick for the Facebook Historical Fiction book club.

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