Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Loving Frank

Nancy Horan writes in her Afterword, “Loving Frank is a work of fiction based on events relating to the love affair of the brilliant and controversial architect Frank Lloyd Wright and one of his clients, Mamah Borthwick Cheney.”

When Mamah Cheney and her husband Edwin commissioned Wright in 1903 to design a house for their family in Oak Park, Illinois [also childhood home of Ernest Hemingway], Mamah and Frank developed a intellectual relationship that eventually led to an affair. The depth of that affair and its repercussions, imagined by Horan, covers a period in history from 1907 to 1914.

Since very little is known about Mamah Cheney, Horan, “as close as possible,” used a historical approach to document this period in Frank Lloyd Wright’s life.  Using Wright’s closely examined life as her basis, Horan filled in Mamah’s as it “played out in her letters and other records” and laid it with the “ideas and events that enlivened the times and places in which they lived.” By doing this, Horan created the personal relationship that Cheney had with Wright.

Loving Frank is well done historical fiction;  part novel, part history, and part imagination, Horan’s work is believable, realistic, and compelling.  About ½ through the book, I emailed my friend Celia, who loaned it to me,  and told her that I did not like the “selfish” Mamah or the “arrogant” Wright. She emailed me back -- “just wait.”

Keenly interesting, Horan builds a momentum that kept me turning pages to see what happened to end the affair, and so subtle is Horan‘s writing, that I didn’t see it coming.

1 comment:

  1. I still like his architecture. His personal life, though, left a lot to be desired.