A Shocking and Tragic Biography
My Southern California bookclub recently read and discussed the biographical novel, "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan. For those of you who may be considering reading this biography, you may be interested in some of the opinions and reactions expressed by members of my group.
First, a short overview of the plot: "Loving Frank" tells the story of the affair that the famous Chicago architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, had from 1907 to 1914 with Mamah Cheney, who was the wife of one of his clients. Their attraction for each other actually began in 1903, when Frank Wright designed a new home for the Cheney's in Chicago. Since both Frank Wright and Mamah Cheney were married and had children, they resisted getting romantically involved with each other for a few years. However, almost inevitably, they left their spouses and families and embarked on a shocking relationship. Because of the status they both had in Chicago society, their affair was well-known and well-publicized in the local newspapers. Not only were Frank Wright and Mamah Cheney embarassed and ostracized, but so were their families.
Nancy Horan does an excellent job of taking these newspaper articles, along with a few letters and personal interviews, and developing the material into a full and fascinating story. In addition, she has included a wealth of historical information about feminism in the early 1900's, both here in the United States as well as in Europe. Consequently, this story is about more than a simple, torrid affair. It is the tale of a fascinating era in the history of women.
The book is available on Amazon.com in a variety of formats including hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition and audiobook. If you are interested in learning more about the formats and prices, use this direct link to "Loving Frank" on Amazon.com.
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What I Liked About This Biography of Frank Lloyd Wright
My bookclub was intrigued by "Loving Frank." Although we are all well-educated women, none of us were aware of the personal exploits of Frank Lloyd Wright. This book was able to explain not only his theories of architecture, but put his ideas into a historical context. At the same time, it also covered many of the other philosophical and social changes that were taking place in the early 1900's, and the struggles of turn-of-the-century women to balance motherhood and meaningful work. The author also does a wonderful job of fully developing the main characters, so that they seem as real and as passionate as they actually were. It is amazing to witness their tenacity in the face of ridicule, rejection and reporters!
Why You May Not Wish To Read This Book
Warning: On the negative side, this book contains some material that will shock many readers. At times, it is difficult to defend the actions of the main characters, especially their indifference towards the feelings of their spouses and children. Without giving away any of the plot, one of my friends said, "I loved the book, but found myself hating Frank and Mamah!"
In closing, if you enjoy reading either biographies or historical fiction, you are likely to enjoy reading this well written and fascinating biography of these turbulent events in the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. However, be advised that some parts of the book, though true, may be painful to read. Overall, my bookclub enjoyed discussing the book ... then opted to read a "happier" selection the following month!
If you are interested in reading about other novels that might interest you or your bookclub, here are links to their reviews:
This Book is Available in a Variety of Formats
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(price as of Oct 9, 2015)