This book was such great fun! Part satire, part social commentary (think Austen), part romance, part laugh-out-loud comedy. With a heroine who is spunThis book was such great fun! Part satire, part social commentary (think Austen), part romance, part laugh-out-loud comedy. With a heroine who is spunky, smart, soulless and quite Amelia Peabody-ish (see Elizabeth Peters' famous parasol-toting heroine).
I loved this book; I read it through, and then turned around and read it through again immediately. I've recommended it to a number of friends who love a good laugh wrapped in a compelling tale, and cannot wait for Changeless to come out at the end of this month. What a ride!
Painful. Could not get into the story. Not at all compelling. Discussed with others who had read/were reading the book and it was universally dislikedPainful. Could not get into the story. Not at all compelling. Discussed with others who had read/were reading the book and it was universally disliked....more
I was excited to read this book for my book club because I love the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, but have never read anything about his personal life.I was excited to read this book for my book club because I love the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, but have never read anything about his personal life.
Simply from reading the back cover I knew this book would be a challenge because it deals with infidelity, the true self, love, honesty and family. I knew that Mamah and Frank's story was going to present a sort of moral morass. It was interesting to me from my 21st century perspective to read how this early 20th century woman (for the book is almost exclusively from Mamah's point of view) dealt with such troubling themes. I didn't know if I would be able to sympathize with her struggles, but I did.
It's more of a testament to the power of books (and Horan's very good writing) that I could feel so absolutely that what she did was wrong in my present-day mindset, and then feel the struggles and heartbreak that Mamah experienced every moment for the consequences of her actions. I did sympathize with her. I did find some of her arguments about the self and self-love and self-actualization to be very powerful. As a woman who has undergone a good deal of internal review myself to come to a place of inner happiness, I can see why she made some of the choices she did.
As I mentioned above, I had no previous knowledge of Wright's personal life, and had never heard of Mamah Borthwick Cheney before reading this novel, so I was absolutely shocked at the end. I won't spoil it for anyone by elaborating, but unfortunately I think that is what has stuck with me more than anything. Morbid curiousity, sadness, sympathy--rather than the 'lessons' learned by Mamah throughout the period that the novel covers.
While I do realize that this is to a large degree a fictionalized account, based on the few facts that are known about their relationship, I was extremely impressed with the dedication and commitment that Horan put into writing this piece. You do feel an affinity with Mamah, the anguish of her choices (love vs. resonsibility, self vs. child), the confusion of a woman on the cusp of radical change--the trials of early feminism, philosophy, education and the remaining Victorian mores and standard of the 'Angel of the Hearth' that Mamah had become so disenchanted and dissatisfied with confronting in her marriage.
I did feel that Frank wasn't a fully-formed character, though. I couldn't really see what had drawn Mamah to him, other than that he was an intellectual equal. Horan focused on the flawed, egotistical, petty man and--to me--made it hard to understand why someone as dynamic as Mamah allowed herself to become involved with such a man....more