Thursday, April 14, 2011

Loving Frank (copy)

One of the things I like about reading is that I can do it at any time. Prop my feet up on the chaise and nap with a book. Read in the kitchen while waiting for water to boil. Listen to a book on tape as I commute to races. Whip out a paperback while waiting in line at the MDOT.

What do people do on sleepless nights if they are not readers? I always wonder this early in the morning when I cannot sleep. I get out of bed and head to my favorite chair and read for an hour or 30 minutes and then go back to sleep. It works like a charm.

For the past two weeks, I have spent a lot of time reading in the wee early hours. My sinuses wake me around three(ish) and instead of fighting it, I boil some water and take in warm liquids while getting comfy in my chair.

These past weeks I find myself searching the rues of Paris for Kotzwinkle’s Loli in The Hot Jazz Trio and following that Loving Frank adulterer, Mamah, as she navigates the judgments of Chicago’s Victorian society. Then I head back to bed to dream about these characters.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan is a debut novel that lingers in the minds of readers. It is the fictionalized story of the true love affair between Martha “Mamah” Borthwick and Frank Lloyd Wright.

They met when Mamah’s husband, Edwin, wanted to build a modern home. They lived in a choppy, over stuffed Queen Anne on Oak Park that originally belonged to her father. A neighborhood over was a new home by local architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, that had everyone gossiping. During the open house Edwin fell in love with the spacious, entertaining floor plan.

Mamah knew Catherine, Frank’s wife, through the 19th Century Club where they were both members. Through Edwin’s persistence, they began to socialize with the Wrights and Frank agreed to submit plans for their new home.

As the house takes on shape so does Mamah and Frank’s relationship. They love books and share the same fondness for “Ruskin, Thoreau, Emerson, Nietzsche, and Goethe.” A librarian before the children, Mamah finds a peer in Frank. Edwin does not like to read.

Mamah’s thoughts propel this book; although, readers will gain insight into the young architect genius, too.


the teacher's pets said...

This book captivated me for several days as I popped the audio disks in my cd player while I drove around town. Believe it or not, I didn't know much about Frank Lloyd Wright until I got hooked on this book and quite frankly (haha) I was a bit put off by his selfish behavior and in Mamah's towards the end of the book. While I understood why the 2 became lovers I just couldn't believe they would abandon their children for so long. The ending of the book shocked me so much that I can't get it out of my head!

Savvyworkinggal said...

Loving Frank was one of my favorite reads in 2010. I am from the Spring Green area and have toured Taliesin, so I was vaguely familiar with Mamah’s story, but found the tragic ending much more horrific than I had remembered. I had a problem with Mamah leaving her children as well, but I don’t think she initially thought she was going to be separated from them for so long. I also don’t think she was prepared for the backlash she received. I didn’t mention it in my review, but I remember how upset my neighbors were when two unmarried hippies (they had very long hair) bought a run down house a couple of miles from my home in the 70’s. I can’t imagine the Spring Green folks being too enamored with Frank and Mamah’s living arrangement at the turn of the century even if he was Frank Lloyd Wright. Can’t wait to hear your final thoughts.

Sharon said...

I've looked at this book several times but just didn't know if it was for me. I look forward to your review.

maggie moran said...

Teacher's Pet, things seem to work out that she is without the children to move the story along. It makes me feel that Horan adapted the Young Adult format of teen alone in the world b/c mom and dad are dead, divorced, off on a trip, etc in reverse. :D

Teacher's Pet and Savvy Working Gal, I am reading the book b/c someone told me about the true tragic end, but I am hesitant to suggest it to my reading group who are over 60yo. They will NOT approve of the adultery and may not get into the story. :( I am so liking it though!

Me, too Sharon! It was only after my friend told me the true story that I became interested. Gues I am morbid. :P

Vasilly said...

This sounds like an excellent read! I'm adding it to my tbr list.

maggie moran said...

So far so good, Vasilly! :D

Dona said...

I loved this book, Maggie, but the majority of my book group members hated it. Some were distraught about the ending and disliked it because of the choices made by the characters. Others thought the author took too many liberties.

I visited Taliesin the summer after I read it and asked our tour guide what his opinion of the book was. He said that the author had really done her research. He also was pleased that it was bringing in so much business.

I grew up in Northern Illinois where everyone knows about FLW and has seen at least one home he built, so I thought perhaps that was the appeal of the book to me.

I see you're in Mississippi -- I just got back from visiting my Aunt who lives just south of Fulton.

maggie moran said...

Dona, I love the book and am still reading! Been too busy to concentrate on it, though. I was thinking our book club would not like it for the very same reason your's did not! BUT, we talked about _Little Bee_ yesterday and they loved it! Sarah messes around on her hubby that causes him to get depressed and eventually kill himself. It was the character Little Bee that kept them reading and enjoying the book. Enough so to forgive Sarah! :D

Dona said...

On Little Bee -- I missed our book group discussion for that, but didn't really love the book so much. I did love Little Bee and the way the author showed us what she was thinking about things we take for granted, but the ending seemed rushed and implausible.

maggie moran said...

I can say that everyone in our group hated the ending, Dona! They all were asking what was she thinking by taking Little Bee to the beach! Doh!