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 Americas greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheneys 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. Horans Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamahs is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novels 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.
Despite having "bodice-ripping" potential, Loving Frank is most firmly a novel grounded in research, not a 'romance'. Of course, the love affair between Mamah and Frank is central to the story, but Loving Frank is first and foremost the story of Mamah's life, and although the relationship between her and Frank is interesting, it is the exploration of her character and the period details that impact her life that keep the reader enthralled, as she struggles to reconcile her need to be with Frank, her need to be with her children and perhaps most powerful of all, her need to discover who she is herself. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The New Yorker
In her first novel, Horan, viewing the relationship from Mamah’s perspective, does well to avoid serving up a bodice-ripper for the smart set. If anything, she cleaves too faithfully to the sources, occasionally giving her story the feel of a dissertation masquerading as a novel.
The Washington Post - Meg Wolitzer
In writing about tenderness between lovers or describing a physical setting, she uses prose that is is knowing and natural.
New York Times
If Loving Frank begins dutifully, it takes on the impact of truly artful fiction when all these forces come into play.
This spirited novel brings Mamah the attention she deserves as an intellectual and feminist.
Library Journal - Kathy Piehl
The plot, characters, and ideas meld into a novel that will be a treat for fans of historical fiction but should not be pigeonholed in a genre section.
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.
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.
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.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Lynn Wow -- what an ending! Really enjoyed learning more about this time in history and some personal history about Frank Lloyd Wright. The ending is so powerful that weeks later, I am still thinking about this book.
Rated of 5
by Judy Krueger Woman Behaves Badly From 1907 to 1914, Frank Lloyd Wright carried on a love affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney. They were both married to others when the affair began and it caused a great scandal in Chicago as well as around the country. Having always been an admirer... Read More
Rated of 5
by geoffrey paterson loving the book This is certainly one of the books that I have read recently that stays in the memory long after the last page has been turned. I think that Nancy Horan has done an outstanding job of placing the reader almost in attendance observing the wild and... Read More
Rated of 5
by B Hansen Loving Frank This was a great read!! The story and characters are engaging and the story is a nice mix of fact and fiction. It is the type of book you find yourself thinking about long after you have finished reading it. Highly recommended.
Heartbreakingly beautiful and inescapably human, ordinary and extraordinary people chart their own courses in life. In the aftermath of one tragic afternoon, they are all forced to look at themselves and face up to the observation that the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alices Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.
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