Friday, August 15, 2008

Loving Frank

I recently joined a book club and it was my turn to pick a book. I am not a big reader, but I do enjoy biographies and historical fiction. While browsing the library’s catalog and some bookstores I stumbled upon Loving Frank: a novel by Nancy Horan and immediately knew that would be my selection for the next book club title. It combined my love of the arts and historical fiction, so I knew I would not be disappointed. The book is an excellent read and can be read fairly quickly. Some surprising facts about this novel are that it is the author’s first book and it took her seven years to complete. She spent much time researching Frank Lloyd Wright, the Frank referred to in the title, and his mistress Mamah Borthwick Cheney in order to write about their story.

Some of Wright’s biographies and his autobiography make reference to their affair but the full story about their relationship has never been told. Much of the novel is based on facts and sources include newspaper articles, Wright’s archives, and historical events so it is difficult to easily identify when the author used her artistic license. The book also includes wonderful descriptions of Wright’s architectural gems including his home Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. I was fortunate to read a Random House Reader’s Circle paperback edition of the book so it included a reader’s guide section which includes an interview with the author and reading group questions and topics for discussion. I recommend reading it cover to cover and do not skip the Sources, and Acknowledgements sections at the end. The novel is of love and tragedy and if you do not already know the story of Wright and Cheney’s relationship you may want to investigate it either before or after you read this novel.

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