Loving Frank
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Loving Frank

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  53,352 ratings  ·  7,664 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 7th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Shannon
Jun 25, 2008 Shannon rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Shannon by: Jane Tesch
I was very disappointed by this book. In the past two years, Jason and I have toured two Frank Lloyd Wright homes and I took a modern architecture class in college that featured a ton of his work, so I thought I would enjoy a fictionalized glimpse of his personal life. I did enjoy reading about Taliesin and the Midway Gardens and how FLW incorporated thoughts from disparate cultures (Japanese, Italian, German) into his own creations.

What I didn't like was Mamah, who was unfortunately the main ch...more
Gail
So I realize I have a problem of, you, know, praising a LOT of books I read. And I'm sorry, I try to be honest, I do (and I AM. I just think I pick a lot of winners - ha ;)

But seriously, this book. WOW. WOW. WOW. I love it in a way I haven't loved a book in a while (even all the ones I've said I loved).

First off, for those unfamiliar with the plot, this is historical fiction at its finest — detailing the love affair between FLW and Mamah Cheney. It's a real affair, and the timeline (including a...more
John
Two people, selfish and completely self absorbed who flaunt convention and common sense while living their own self styled code of ethics “I want for me” A code invoked throughout their lifetimes with little consideration for the destruction, exploitation and pain caused for the adults and children left in their wake. 8 children and a niece who had already lost her own mother experienced directly the effects of this cavalier attitude toward responsibility. Fanciful thinking aside, I saw no coura...more
Molly
Jan 24, 2013 Molly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: book club
Recommended to Molly by: Mom
Shelves: worththeread
Holy smokes does this book have a shocking ending. There is not one note on the book flap or in cover blurbs to point to that. It's a historical novel, a love affair between a woman named Mamah Borthwright or -wick (or something like that) and Frank Lloyd Wright. They really did leave their families--his six children, her three--to be with one another in 1909.

As an editor, I'm surprised by the book editor's decision to not make note of the tragic twist at the end even once on the cover. The book...more
Susan Albert
In 1972, I attended a conference at Frank Lloyd Wright's famous house, Taliesin, I've carried a vision of it ever since: its startlingly flat planes, the Oriental lines of its roofs, the way it snugs into the side of a Wisconsin hill. And indoors, the Zen-like simplicity of furnishings, the wide windows that open onto green landscape, and the glowing walls that seem to shimmer with their own inner light. I can understand why Mamah Borthwick Cheney fell in love with its architect and loved him wi...more
Walt
Jun 23, 2008 Walt rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone.
Recommended to Walt by: reading group
I like to read first published novels by authors, so when my reading group, comprised primarily of women, chose Loving Frank, I was looking forward to it. It didn't disappoint me. I enjoyed the narrative flow, which was smooth and calm as a river, even when it had exciting rapids. The story arced like a rainbow and climaxed like 24. It didn't seem written by a novice. I would say, "Great job, Nancy Horan."
Early in marriage, my wife and I moved from the West to the Midwest. We had lived a shelt...more
Schmacko
I read Nancy Horan's debut book, because in a few days I will be up in Wisconsin very near some of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous works. Loving Frank is a somewhat-fictional account of the little-known feminist Mameh Borthwick Cheney and her 9-year affair with FLW. This relationship broke up two marriages and filled papers with scandal, as the couple ran away to Europe and then came to build their famous home, Taliesin, in Wisconsin.

Some books, I can concede are perfectly well-writte...more
Susan
Sep 26, 2007 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: yomr
Quite a rollercoaster - about midway through this book, I was completely inspired to DO THINGS. To be intellectual and well spoken and creative; in short, to not be just a mom, as I am most days. I thought Mamah was incredible; her self-discovery so moving.

But as the book progressed, I started to like her less and less. And Frank Lloyd Wright I never found an endearing character. Pompous ass, yes. I didn't think either of them were justified in their actions and I certainly couldn't get behind h...more
Karen
I hated this book until about 3/4s of the way through, then I would say it was tolerable. I think the main characters are pompous, pretentious, and the "love" story overwrought and pointless. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if the author treated the characters as if she knew this was how they appeared, but she seemed to be taking the whole thing very seriously. And since most of the book is fabricated, I can't help but blame the author for turning a grown-up affair into some kind of adolescent...more
Chrissie
Dec 13, 2010 Chrissie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Lee and Donna
NO SPOILERS!!!

If you do no know how the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick ends up - well then you absolutely must read this book. That is assuming you are inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture and design. I was in the blue. I had no idea what happened. Think if I hadn't read this book! So if you are like me and do not now how all was resolved - read this book. The writing is good. there are many lines I underlined to copy and add here as quotes, but then I got too laz...more
Penelope
Aug 30, 2008 Penelope rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE! Book Clubs
WOW. I just finished this book and that's the first word that comes to mind. HOLY CRAP are the second and third. Talk about an emotional punch to the gut.

Before reading this novel, I knew of Frank Lloyd Wright and his amazing designs but nothing of his personal life. It surprised me right off the bat to learn that he left his first wife for another woman, arguably the love of his life, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. The novel chronicles their affair from beginning to end. Love, soul mates, sex and rom...more
Cheryl
No, I didn't love Frank. Wasn't seduced by his character. Maybe this is why I didn't love this novel.
Sara
Dec 26, 2007 Sara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Frank Lloyd Wright worshippers, anyone who enjoys a good narrative
Shelves: fiction
Nancy Horan's fictionalized version of the true story of the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney fills in the raw facts with well-researched context and beautifully expressed emotion.

Horan's exploration of Mamah's painful experiences as a renegade woman going against the Victorian ideals is touching and realistic. She does an excellent job of turning these real people into relatable characters and fleshes them out using letters, anecdotes with sensationalist newspaper a...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is the first book I finished from my speed dating project, so that probably tells you something about the ease of reading this story about Frank Lloyd Wright's mistress and the rise and fall of their relationship. I had originally picked this book to use as my Illinois pick for the Around the USA reading challenge, and still will count it for that since Wright's main office was in Chicago during the timeframe of this book, but it also takes place in Italy and Wisconsin.

I have seen several p...more
Andrea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judy
A wonderful education on Frank Lloyd Wright's motivation and personality told through the viewpoint of Mamah Borthwick-Cheney, his mistress.

As I read this book, I tried to pinpoint why I never had a problem picking this book up as it saddened me and at times maddened me. By the time I came to the end I knew why - the author does a terrific job of presenting this fictional history (based on fact) unbiased. I love authors who trust their readers enough to let them make their own judgments and don...more
Courtney Payne
Just finished it and L-O-V-E-D it. Highly recommend.
This is the kind of book that inspires me to write the author to just share how much I loved the book.
It is a book of fiction, based on the actual lives of Frank Lloyd Wright and his "girlfriend/mistress". But so much more. It is written with such a pitch perfect tone for the time (very early 1900's)---romantic everyday language, world travel, etc.etc.
Some of you already know the story of Frank and Mamah and some of you might be Frank Lloyd Wri...more
Lucy
This book was brought to my attention several months ago but I didn't seriously consider reading it because I thought it was essentially a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect. I have a serious handicap when it comes to reading non-fiction and if I'm going to read a biography of someone, I wanted to read about someone whose life's details I had some...nay....any interest in knowing. An architect, even a really, really famous one, didn't meet that criteria.

When it was selected as...more
Debbie
I wasn't really sure if I would write a review considering that I found and posted so many great quotes from the book. It kind of gives a feel for the book and speaks for itself. However, this was such an enjoyable book for me that I felt compelled to say something.
This is the historical fiction account of early 1900's American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. We've all, I'm sure, have either seen or heard of his architectural works but the story that most of us had not heard is of his lifelong af...more
Katherine
Nov 30, 2007 Katherine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Frank Lloyd Wright, architecture and the Women's Movement
Awesome book--especially as a debut novel! The last 50 pages took me by surprise and kept me glued until the very end! I didn't know anything about Mamah Borthwick and knew very little about Frank Lloyd Wright, so it was surprising to read what happens in the end. If anything, Horan's narrative technique in the last 50 pages made the book for me.

Don't be fooled by the title, though. This book is so much more than a story about an illicit love affair and the scandal it caused--and so much more th...more
Lisa
Nov 17, 2008 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any chicks who like lit
Recommended to Lisa by: Ever-wise Judy
Shelves: book-club
I love it when a book is as wonderful as the buzz claims it to be. It's amazing that a first-time author could pull off a story this thoughtful and nuanced. Frank Lloyd Wright is a well-known God of Architecture, but the "real" Frank is revealed here to be temptestuous, self-absorbed, brilliant, and a non-conformist down to his very toes. Love him, or hate him, he found his intellectual and spiritual equal in the form of Mamah Cheney, the wife of client, Edwin Cheney. Mamah is the protagonist, b...more
Elizabeth
I'm trying to put my finger on what I did not like about this book. Was it the fact that she left her husband and children to have an affair with Frank Lloyd Wright? No, I don't think it was the moral premise, although all the chapters about being separated from her children were excruciating to read. I think what bothered me about this book was that it was slow. The writing was well-done, very lyrical, very girly (for lack of a better word), but it just plodded along, filled with unimportant de...more
Jill
I was drawn to the book because I was curious about Frank but I learned way more about "Mamah" then I really wanted too. For some reason I really disliked her and it wasn't just because she ends up leaving her kids for Frank (sorry, don't mean to be a spoiler!).
I also felt ripped off after I finished the book and found out that really very little was known about Mamah so Horan took alot of poetic license here. At least she could have made the protaganist more interesting!
The big shocker at the e...more
Susan
The ending did surprise me – I didn't see that coming. If you don't know it, I'm not telling.

Although I'm somewhat familiar with his architecture, I knew little (and still know relatively little) of Frank Lloyd Wright's personal life. And I knew nothing of Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I like historical fiction that has been well researched, as this book apparently was. Still, it just didn't work for me.

Mamah left her husband and children to be with Frank. She abandoned her children with a friend in B...more
Phyllis
My interest in this book was sparked after I recently toured the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois. I attended college just blocks away from his home, grew up in the area, and have long been interested in his art and architecture. I opened this book fully expecting to dislike Mamah because of what I already knew of the affair between her and Frank Lloyd Wright. Instead, on the first page, after reading her words I was swept back into the early 1900’s. As the character of M...more
Sonia Reppe
Oct 11, 2008 Sonia Reppe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Oak Parkers, right? and people who have appreciated FLW's genius
Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio is two blocks south of where I grew up, on a spacious street that boasts several of his houses, where there are always tourists with headphones listening to the "tour on tape," gazing at the architecture. That street never loses its charm, even though I've walked (or biked) down it twenty thousand times. Right next door to my family on Forest avenue lived a Frank Lloyd Wright impersonator/expert who would don his black cape and wide-brimmed hat to give talks...more
Nina
Aug 13, 2008 Nina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like Frank Lloyd Wright
Recommended to Nina by: Chris, mom
I have always been facinated with Frank Lloyd Wright. I have been to some of his houses, and love the modern simple design. This story was told from the point of view of his mistress Mahmah. I didn't even know this part of his life was true. The ending SHOCKED me, and I was amazed that I didn't know the truth behind it. A complex struggle between leaving your family for the one you love. An interesting look what happened to women who wanted divorce during 1909. I am not a big fan of historical f...more
Suzy
I listened to this book with my guy Randy as we drove to Taliesen, the home that Frank Lloyd Wright built for Maymah Cheney, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Maymah was the love of Frank Lloyd Wright's life. They were both married to other people, with children, when they met and began their affair. This flies in the face of modern morality about the sanctity of marriage, but I believe that these two people couldn't help themselves, that they were destined to be together. She was his muse in his arch...more
Susan
I really didn’t know much about Frank Lloyd Wright when I started this book. Sure, I knew he was an architect and I’ve seen some of the houses he has designed. I normally wouldn’t even be interested in reading about his life and probably would have never picked up this book except that my book club was reading it. I am so glad that I read this book -- WOW! -- that is all I can say. There is so much more to this story than just the love affair between him and Maymah Cheney. That fact that this al...more
Christina
Living in Chicago, I have visited Wright's Home & Studio in Oak Park and Taliesin in Spring Green many times, so I already knew the stories of the great architect's personal tragedies and failings. Loving Frank was an engaging read, but I found myself questioning some of it, particularly Horan's depiction of Mamah's guilt and regret over her abandonment of her children. I wanted to like Mamah, but I found that -- even though Horan tried hard to convince me to empathize with her -- I couldn't...more
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Westmont Ladies B...: The new book for May 2 4 Apr 09, 2014 07:31PM  
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Unraveling Rhetor...: Was running off to Europe necessary? Why did she really do it? 7 7 Dec 22, 2013 08:19AM  
Who/Where? 3 58 Nov 21, 2013 10:27AM  
Loving Frank packs a punch 14 227 May 23, 2012 09:47AM  
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Nancy Horan is a writer and a journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband and two sons. Loving Frank is her first novel.
More about Nancy Horan...
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“Don't you see what's happened? You wanted to be in love again. To feel that feeling where a man you hardly know gazes into your eyes and seems to be the only human being who ever understood the real you.” 76 likes
“It has always been on the written page that the world has come into focus for me. If I can piece all these bits of memory together with the diaries and letters and the scribbled thoughts that clutter my mind and bookshelves, then maybe I can explain what happened. Maybe the worlds I have inhabited for the past seven years will assume order and logic and wholeness on paper. Maybe I can tell my story in a way that is useful to someone else.” 13 likes
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