Loving Frank

Loving Frank

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I'm from Chicago, so I'm drawn to the titans of our town.  Many are architects, some athletes, poets and TV magnates.  But one in particular made his mark and then went on to imprint the world, Frank Lloyd Wright.  Eventually you picture the buildings -- like the Guggenheim -- when his name is mentioned. 

But this work, Loving Frank, by Nancy Moran is a deftly imagined portrait of an uncompromising man, who demanded and paid a terrible price in his personal life.  Similar to The Paris Wife, which tells of Ernest Hemingway's first wife and The Aviator's Wife, which tells of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's marriage to Charles Lindbergh-- this novel is imagined from the woman's (lesser-known figure's) point-of-view.   

Mamah Borthwick Cheney is the real-life mistress, who had an affair with Wright.  They met when he was commissioned to build her family's home in Oak Park.  She was captivated by his eccentric worldliness.  He is drawn by her intellect and passion for culture and the world. 

Cheney is a romantic, feminist.  She is constrained by the times she lives in, but in the end she defies all the mores of society.  The scandal of their affair was as lurid and covered by newspapers as when Brad left Jen for Angelina.  

She eventually gives up everything, including her children, to be with him.  He continues to have try and have it all. Neither can find true contentment in the required compromise.  The story culminates in the true tragic fire, which destroyed Wright's estate Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  

About the Author: 
Loving Frank was Nancy Horan's first novel.  The book won the 2009 James Fenimore Cooper prize for best historical fiction.  Before writing novels full time, Horan was a journalist and teacher.  She lived in Oak Park, IL for 25 years.  She now lives on an island in the Puget Sound. 

Same Shelf: 
The Paris Wife
Paula McLain


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Staff contributors are those with the enviable job of reading and loving books.