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.
Mamah Cheney sidled up to the Studebaker and put her hand sideways on the crank. She had started the thing a hundred times before, but she still heard Edwins words whenever she grabbed on to the handle. Leave your thumb out. If you dont, the crank can fly back and take your thumb right off. She churned with a fury now, but no sputter came from beneath the cars hood. Crunching across old snow to the drivers side, she checked the throttle and ignition, then returned to the handle and cranked again. Still nothing. A few teasing snowflakes floated under her hat rim and onto her face. She studied the sky, then set out from her house on foot toward the library.
It was a bitterly cold end-of-March day, and Chicago Avenue was a river of frozen slush. Mamah navigated her way through steaming horse droppings, the hem of her black coat lifted high. Three blocks west, at Oak Park Avenue, she leaped onto the wooden sidewalk and hurried south as the wet ...
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).
Full Review (626 words).
A pictorial tour through the
life and works of Frank Lloyd
Wright including buildings and
people mentioned in Loving
Frank and (to throw you off
the scent) a few that aren't!
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