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Loving Frank: A Novel Paperback – April 8, 2008
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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
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
Many of you are familiar with the clandestine love affair between Wright and Mamah Barthwick Chaney that was much publicized and maligned. I had read a little about it, but not much. Mostly, I was just not interested. I am not a fan of Wright or his architecture.
However, Horan writes from the viewpoint of Chaney, not Wright, and artfully brings both the era and the relationship of two people who are married and have children with other spouses into brilliant focus without being tawdry. I learned a lot of interesting things about Wright and Chaney that I will never forget. Both were immensely talented, complex, and deeply flawed individuals.
Horan takes us along on their travels and travails from Chicago to Wisconsin and Japan and explores Chaney’s relationship with a famous feminist of the time. This is a literary novel that is easy to follow and delves deeply into the lives of two intelligent, eccentric, and unforgettable characters.
I won’t spoil it by telling you what happens in the end, but it sent me online to research whether it really happened. I was not prepared for what I found.
The flaw in this book is the lack of spark! The writing, and the characterizations are dull and insipid.Wright's genius is treated like an encyclopedia subject, the reader has to be told, not shown; we feel none of his fire. Mamah, is portrayed as his thoughtful and provocative equal,but we have to take it on faith, because she doesn't seem to be more than a foil for his narcisissm and excess.
Frankly, I was bored.