Mar 30, 2011

Loving Frank

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

My rating: 3 stars

Recap from goodreads: 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.

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. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion.

This must be the week for videos. Instead of a regular book review post, I thought it would be fun to video blog about it instead! Please excuse the random shakiness (that's how you can tell I was switching the camera to my other hand!), the ridiculous facial expressions, and the lovely double chin the camera adds on. I'm also standing in our living/dining room so all the stuff in the corner is Ben's studio/workspace. Oh, and I'm not wearing makeup. (Just keeping it real people).

Loving Frank from Becky on Vimeo.

A few more thoughts:

*I mentioned that the house we saw had a screened-in patio, but Wright wasn't the one who designed it - he didn't want screens at all. I'm wondering if there's a connection between that and how this book ended? Anyone know? (Please don't spoil the ending in the comments in case people want to read the book!)

*Nancy Horan's writing is fabulous. Let me show you:

"He sat down and looked at her. 'Tell me everything,' he said. Tell me everything. He might as well have said, 'Take off your dress.'"(Pg 18)

Talk about how times have changed. Isn't it interesting to think at one point the most intimate you could be with someone was talking to them and getting to know them? I think this still holds true today, but with how sensationalized everything is talking sometimes seems like it's not as high on people's priority lists.

" 'Men have always been trained to have the courage to dare...Women, on the other hand, are stuck being the keepers of memories and traditions. We've become the great conservators. Oh, I suppose we're suppler, as a result, because we've learned to see many sides. But what a price has been paid. It has kept us from greatness! And most women are happy just to repeat opinions and judgments they've heard, as if they thought of the ideas themselves....Women need to understand evolutionary science, philosophy, art. They need to expand their knowledge and stop assassinating each others' characters.' " (Pg 150)

Again, it's amazing how a thought that was relevant in the early 1900's is still relevant today. Women have definitely accomplished more, but we still attack each other instead of support each other more than we should. (Hello online bullying).

" 'I thought you believed that woman's intuition was fiction, anyway.' She did. The expression annoyed her, as if women didn't use intelligence and experience - just as men did - to make wise decisions." (Pg 258)

These lines pretty much blew me away. I've always liked the idea of a woman's intuition, but I never ever thought of it this way. Do you think this is true?

"Women are storytellers. It is how we bring one another comfort and illumination." (Pg 324)

Love. End of discussion. I mean, that's what I'm doing on this blog each day aren't I - telling a story?

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this book - have you read it? Do you want to? Do you see now why I say it gives you a lot to think about?


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I really, really liked this book. I bawled at the end of the book. And I was reading it while waiting to board a flight so that was sort of humiliating!

I had a huge issue w/ the fact that she chose to basically abandon her children and go to live with FLW. I get that they had this great love, but to foresake your children? Really?

My aunt & I read this & then we also read Anna Karenina, and there are some interesting parallels between the two books. So you'll have to let me know what you think of AK in relation to this book (I think I saw that you are reading AK on good reads).

All in all, loved the book, not a fan of FLW, but I find him intriguing. And I def want to see more of his houses!

Annie said...

Wow - at first glance I thought that was your mom in the video! Holy cow you look like her!!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I really liked the book and it was interesting to see how a relationship that wouldn't cause too much of a scandal today was like the end of the world then. It was pretty selfish of both of them to ignore their children, but I think also, it is very brave to follow your heart and not stay in a situation that isn't making you happy.

Amber said...

I have NOT read this book but I think I want to now!

Darcie said...

I felt like you, I thought the book was very well written and Horan captured the characters, making me want to keep reading. I learned a whole lot about Wright I didn't know and I really viewed this from a historical perspective.

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Unknown said...

Oooh... I'd love to read this - I'm headed to Chicago next month, and it might be a perfect pre-trip read.

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