Thursday, September 10, 2009

113 (2009 #38). Loving Frank

by Nancy Horan

Loving Frank is probably best described as a biographical novel or fictionalized biography. It’s the story of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the love of world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s life. Their affair shocked the still-Victorian nation from 1907 through 1914, as both had children and were married to others (although Mamah and her husband divorced in 1911). They met in 1903 in Oak Park, Illinois (where author Nancy Horan and some of my relatives used to live), when Frank designed a house for Mamah and her then-husband.

Strong-willed and independent, a college graduate and a former librarian, Mamah spent long periods on her own in Europe, translating books on free love by feminist Ellen Key, from German and Swedish to English. She was an intellectual match for Wright, and part of the inspiration for Taliesin, his home and studio in the Wisconsin countryside where his maternal grandparents settled.

This is another work that makes me want to research the characters, settings, and events to learn even more. Nancy Horan has a great website for the book with lots of photographs of Wright’s works, a video walking tour of Oak Park, as well as period newspaper articles about him and Mamah. The interesting cover for the hardbound edition features a stained glass dining room ceiling light from one of the homes Wright designed.

I think this will make a great book for discussion - it's scheduled for November with my local book club.


  1. I was on Wikipedia researchig Mamah Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright after I finished Loving Frank. I loved Horan's writing and became engrossed in the story. However, all the characters were so unlikeable that I found myself throwing the book at the wall more than once. Although, overall I thought it was a good piece of historical fiction.

    1. Whitney, I agree - the characters were awful! Thank you for commenting!