Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Loving Frank

Book: Loving Frank

Author: Nancy Horan

Short Summary:
Loving Frank is the story of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, a woman devoted to the women’s rights, and her love affair with the well known architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. After Mamah and her husband Edwin hire Frank to build their hour in Oak Park, IL, Mamah and Frank quickly find they are attracted to each other. Mamah is unsatisfied with her relationship with her loyal husband and admits she mainly agreed to marry him because of his persistence and the fact that she wanted children. It is not long before Mamah and Frank start an affair, leading Mamah to leave her husband and children to travel to Europe with Frank. Mamah is not the only one to leave her family, as Frank has also left his devoted wife and former friend of Mamah’s, Catherine. This piece of historical fiction weaves factual characters and events into the story of Mamah and Frank throughout the time of their affair.

My Thoughts:
There were aspects of this book I really enjoyed and admired in the writing and others I could have done without. I had a difficult time with the characters, unable to find too many redeeming qualities in them. Mamah was in an unhappy marriage, and while I understood her reasoning for leaving her husband to be with the person she truly loved, I had a hard time with the fact that she left her kids to go to Europe with Frank. It wasn’t even that she left her kids that I found truly hard to swallow, but the disappointment she felt when seeing her kids again. She was hurt that they did not instantly bond with her or things weren’t as she remembered them. She left them for a significant amount of time. How could she not expect things to be different or strained between them? Frank was even less of a likable character. He was selfish, rude, and extremely unappreciative of others, not to mention a compulsive liar.

I realize that Horan was writing about real people and events, not just fictional characters, which to me would be an extremely difficult task. I did admire her writing style and telling of the story. She incorporated real newspaper articles and throughout the story to describe the scandal of Frank and Mamah’s affair.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the building of Frank and Mamah’s home in Wisconsin, Taliesin. I’ve actually visited and toured Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, Frank’s successful attempt to build a home out in the desert. When thinking about what I witnessed at Taliesen West, it matched closely to the detailed descriptions of Wright’s work throughout the book.

While I don’t want to give away the ending, this was also a part of the book I enjoyed because it was very unexpected if you know little about this couple.

In conclusion, I would say this book was good, but not great. If you are interested in the life of Frank Lloyd Wright or his architecture it is worth reading.

My Rating: 3/5 stars


  1. I listed to the audio version and thought it was good -- not great though.

  2. Even though I read this book over two years ago, now that I read your review I mostly agree with you. I did feel somewhat put off by Mamah's following Frank to Europe and really risking the love of others for the sake of his love.
    I mostly also was glad to just find out more about Frank Lloyd Wright of whom I knew nothing.

  3. I have not read this book but I really enjoyed reading your honest and well-written review. :)

  4. I felt the same- good but not great. But interesting to learn about Mamah and Frank.

  5. I will probably pass it by because of the good but not great comments. But thanks for this review - it was very interesting.