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Loving Frank: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Nancy Horan
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (961 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $7.01 (47%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright.

Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion.

Elegantly written and remarkably rich in detail, Loving Frank is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman, a national icon, and their timeless love story.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Nancy Horan's Under the Wide and Starry Sky.

Advance praise for Loving Frank:

Loving Frank is one of those novels that takes over your life. It’s mesmerizing and fascinating–filled with complex characters, deep passions, tactile descriptions of astonishing architecture, and the colorful immediacy of daily life a hundred years ago–all gathered into a story that unfolds with riveting urgency.”
–Lauren Belfer, author of City of Light

“This graceful, assured first novel tells the remarkable story of the long-lived affair between Frank Lloyd Wright, a passionate and impossible figure, and Mamah Cheney, a married woman whom Wright beguiled and led beyond the restraint of convention. It is engrossing, provocative reading.”
——Scott Turow

“It takes great courage to write a novel about historical people, and in particular to give voice to someone as mythic as Frank Lloyd Wright. This beautifully written novel about Mamah Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright’s love affair is vivid and intelligent, unsentimental and compassionate.”
——Jane Hamilton

“I admire this novel, adore this novel, for so many reasons: The intelligence and lyricism of the prose. The attention to period detail. The epic proportions of this most fascinating love story. Mamah Cheney has been in my head and heart and soul since reading this book; I doubt she’ ll ever leave.”
–Elizabeth Berg

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Significant Seven, August 2007: It's a rare treasure to find a historically imagined novel that is at once fully versed in the facts and unafraid of weaving those truths into a story that dares to explore the unanswered questions. Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney's love story is--as many early reviews of Loving Frank have noted--little-known and often dismissed as scandal. In Nancy Horan's skillful hands, however, what you get is two fully realized people, entirely, irrepressibly, in love. Together, Frank and Mamah are a wholly modern portrait, and while you can easily imagine them in the here and now, it's their presence in the world of early 20th century America that shades how authentic and, ultimately, tragic their story is. Mamah's bright, earnest spirit is particularly tender in the context of her time and place, which afforded her little opportunity to realize the intellectual life for which she yearned. Loving Frank is a remarkable literary achievement, tenderly acute and even-handed in even the most heartbreaking moments, and an auspicious debut from a writer to watch. --Anne Bartholomew

From Publishers Weekly

Horan's ambitious first novel is a fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright's first marriage. Despite the title, this is not a romance, but a portrayal of an independent, educated woman at odds with the restrictions of the early 20th century. Frank and Mamah, both married and with children, met when Mamah's husband, Edwin, commissioned Frank to design a house. Their affair became the stuff of headlines when they left their families to live and travel together, going first to Germany, where Mamah found rewarding work doing scholarly translations of Swedish feminist Ellen Key's books. Frank and Mamah eventually settled in Wisconsin, where they were hounded by a scandal-hungry press, with tragic repercussions. Horan puts considerable effort into recreating Frank's vibrant, overwhelming personality, but her primary interest is in Mamah, who pursued her intellectual interests and love for Frank at great personal cost. As is often the case when a life story is novelized, historical fact inconveniently intrudes: Mamah's life is cut short in the most unexpected and violent of ways, leaving the narrative to crawl toward a startlingly quiet conclusion. Nevertheless, this spirited novel brings Mamah the attention she deserves as an intellectual and feminist. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1262 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 7, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,625 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
421 of 444 people found the following review helpful
I have studied the work and bio of Frank Lloyd Wright for many years, even traveling to his Western headquarters, Taliesen West, and touring homes he built in four cities. I was well aware of his strengths and faults, but little has been published about the women in his wife, other than his domineering, smothering mother and his strident, domineering third (and last) wife. (I'm counting Mamah Borthwick, his lover for about a half-dozen years, as a second wife, since they would have married if his first wife had granted him a divorce; he and Borthwick lived together for several years).

Wright's towering ego is well known and well documented. By choosing to look at Wright and his work through the eyes of Mamah, his lover, in this fictionalized historical tale, Horan brings new insight into the demons and angels that inspired his vision. Wright's well-documented narcissism and inability to control himself personally is examined as well, but not as the fatal flaws offered by most biographers, but as components of an immensely complex and genius personality.

Mamah's (first) husband was first to see Wright's vision but Mamah was the one to embrace it wholly as Wright set about building them a home in Oak Park, not far from his own house. Wright was a star on the rise at that time, accepting commissions almost faster than he could manage them, but the affair he and Mamah embarked upon, which caused her to abandon her children, led to considerable scandal and major setbacks to his business.

Mamah was a recognized scholar and intellect until she was subsumed into a loveless marriage by the conventions of the time.
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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TO BE PERFECTLY FRANK... February 5, 2008
Frank Lloyd Wright was, and is, considered by many to be an architectural visionary. His Prarie homes were organic in nature and designed to blend into the landscape rather than compete with it.

Frank himself could hardly be considered as a man who "blended into the landscape" and his unconventional affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, a married woman with two children, resulted in tragedy both personal and professional

Author Nancy Horan's historical novel takes you into the lives and minds of this unusual couple and explores their relationship and its effect the people who loved them as well as those on the periphery of their passion.

We are drawn into the inner thoughts of Mameh, an accomplished woman in her own graduate, fluent in several languages.....and her attempt to "stop standing on the side of life watching it float by" and instead "swim in the river and feel it's current". In an era when women were expected to quash any desire for personal growth and "act happy", Mameh's personal conflict forced her to make choices that provided temporary satisfaction, but were ultimately disasterous.

Could it be that you, like me, will become so consumed by Horan's vivid portrayal of this couple that you will find yourself searching the internet for more information about "what happened after" Horan's tale ends.
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178 of 203 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly fresh and riveting novel August 7, 2007
No matter your allegiance to the narcissistic genius who was Frank Lloyd Wright, it is Mamah Cheney who will mesmerize you with her intelligence, sensitivity and straightforward innocence. To dare to write such a complicated true story and to succeed so masterfully is a feat few authors can achieve. Nancy Horan is a remarkably gifted writer who brings you close to the complex love affair between Mamah and Frank and grips you with her elqouent prose. I have not enjoyed a book as much in a very long time. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to dive into an extremely satisfying novel and not emerge from its spell until you turn the last page.
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209 of 246 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated October 2, 2007
For several weeks this book was on the best seller list and I anticipated reading it. With little knowledge of Frank Lloyd Wright I also anticipated learning something about his life and career. To the extent that I gained basic knowledge about FLW and his relationship with Mamah Cheney, the book was successful.

In some regards I found the depiction of Mamah like many historical novels that impose 21st century feelings and values on 19th century women. Since this is a true story, that statement cannot be totally true. However, I think that the author makes Mamah much more modern in her thinkings and opinions than she probably was in life.

While I thought the book was well written, somewhere along the line I missed what drew Mamah Cheney to FLW and what compeled her to have such undying love and to give up so much for "the man she loved." Maybe it was just that she wanted to get out of her relationship with Edward more so than a love for Frank. Perhaps with maturity and looking back in hind sight its easy to second guess Mamah's action. But she gave much more than he did. Consistent with FLW not paying his bills and taking advantage of friends, in a sense he took advantage of Mamah. He was able to go back and forth between his children and Mamah while she essentially burned her bridges. I question to what extent he truly loved a woman to ask her to do what she did. I certainly did not come away from this novel liking FLW.

I found Mamah to be a classic of a woman having an affair with a married man and not realizing that she was being screwed both figuratively and literally. Without Frank she literally had no place to go -no friends, no family.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars It was difficult for me to relate to the character ...
It was difficult for me to relate to the character of Frank Lloyd Wright because I have visited his Taleisin West in AZ with the many stories there about his life. Read more
Published 3 days ago by janet
5.0 out of 5 stars this book captures the struggles of the time period reflecting his...
I thought the book was well written, it kept my interest and had a surprise ending that I was not anticipating. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Linda Polley
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story from a different perspective.
Very interesting fictional fact-based book. Nice how the author weaved the facts into a story and filled in the gaps.
Published 5 days ago by AZJewels
5.0 out of 5 stars I absolutely loved this book
I absolutely loved this book. Second book I have read by Nancy Horan and adored both of them. This is about Frank Lloyd Wright. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Val W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great fascinating book.
Published 9 days ago by Maggie in SC
5.0 out of 5 stars loved loving frank
excellent book loved it
Published 9 days ago by Natalia Jimenez
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Many people will enjoy this book about a man we know little about.
Published 11 days ago by M. Cumber
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent insight to turn of the 20th century morality.
Published 12 days ago by Elliot
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay
A kiss and tell on Frank Lloyd Wright.
Published 16 days ago by ShellRez
2.0 out of 5 stars Only read it as a book club choice. Not ...
Only read it as a book club choice. Not a fan of anything victorian. My feeling is that the book was less than forthright about the main characters, in an effort to portray them in... Read more
Published 17 days ago by mayboo
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More About the Author

Nancy Horan, a former journalist and longtime resident of Oak Park, Illinois, now lives and writes on an island in Puget Sound.

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Where are the reviews for this wonderful book?
I agree, it is very well written. It held my attention as I listened to the story on CD. But I couldn't come up with any sympathy for Mamah. I felt she ruined too many lives just to give into her feelings. I especially felt sorry for her children. She feels bad about abandoning them, too. ... Read More
Mar 19, 2008 by C. Petras |  See all 3 posts
Does anyone know where I can locate a picture of Mamah?
I searched Mamah Bothwick and found this
Mar 12, 2008 by book lover |  See all 3 posts
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