Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 377

This book tells a fictional account of a real relationship between Mamah Borthwick Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright. An interesting story, although too heavily a ‘chick romance’ book for my taste.

The author does her damnedest to make Mamah Cheney into a modern, noble woman—a woman who walked away from her lackluster marriage for a love affair with the famous architected. And yes, by today’s standards Mamah was a strong woman who went after what she wanted and stood her ground. However, this story takes place in the late 1800s, where she was labeled a whore and a home wrecker, and was shunned by proper society. By allowing themselves—Mamah and Frank—to let an infatuation develop into a love affair ruined two families and made them a topic of scorn on newspapers across the country.

I though the author did a splendid job of creating the mood of the era. What I’m sure she didn’t intend was how she projected Mamah after her affair became known. Mamah was shocked and saddened by the reactions (which would have been typical of the times), and in my view made her seem rather stupid, exactly the opposite of what the author intended. She should have had a very clear idea of the cold fate that befell her.

Indeed, I felt that both Mamah and Frank came off as arrogant, egotistical, and selfish. Still, a lot of research when into this book and I did enjoy it. Much of the prose is beautifully crafted. Brace yourself for a rather shocking ending.

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