Monday, April 18, 2011

50 Books in a Year: Book #18 Loving Frank

          Before researching a little bit about this book, I can honestly say that I knew little about Frank Lloyd Wright other than that he was an architect who created liveable works of art sooooo beautiful and breath-taking that I remember even as a teenager wanting to live in one of his famous houses, mostly because I had this naive teenage fascination with all things Ayn Rand. (Note: some links contain spoilers)
          I was surprised by what I found when I searched the title, Taliesin, Frank and Mamah. One reviewer, from The New York Times, sums it up best when she says, "And beyond its shock value, the outcome would have ramifications not only for two ruptured families but also for architects, feminists, criminologists and armchair moralists of every stripe."
          And, that's just it, everybody has something to say about the love affair, and yes, it was an affair, of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney that I'm not sure that we don't miss the point of the reason why we read about it. The point is simple, what does it mean to truly live and what does it mean to truly love someone? Not just like the look of someone, not just what the person says or does, but to find somebody that is so much like you that they become part of the foundation of you. And, what do you do when you find that person after you are married and have children? For some, that have better moral fortitude than I, the answer is simple stay in your marriage, suffer for the children, be altruistic and selfless. For some, such as I, the marriage you are trying desperately to leave would never have happened to begin with because it takes more than like and social conventions to make any marriage work. It seems that both Cheney and Wright (horrible fate aside, and some would say they both deserved it) realized what Edna and Nora did, and were able to do in real life what others could only do in fiction. They loved without conventional limitations, and, Ayn Rand would be proud, thought only of themselves.
          Many, it seems, feel that Frank Lloyd Wright didn't love Mamah Borthwick in this manner and they attribute his silence after Taliesin to cold indifference...I, however, like to be a hopeless romantic and think that when something is that painful the very idea of it breaks your heart and if you talked about it, even to a diary or God, you'd shatter into a million katrillion little pieces and couldn't do anything, not even breath.
         But, no matter how you look at it, I guess, deep down, Wright wasn't any different than most celebrities...not demi-god, only human, which is why I'm enjoying the book so much. Told through the eyes of Mamah, we learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright the person, not the architect.
         I have a long list of Frank Lloyd Wright reading ahead of me...The Women is on my Summer TBR, most definitely and his autobiography and a book about what happened at Taliesin. I'm glad I'm starting with this book, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.


  1. Great review- I enjoyed the historical aspects of this book so much, and the questions it raised. You offer a very thoughtful discussion of them.

  2. Good review - I've been wanting to check this book out for awhile. I had no idea about this love affair until I read Death in a Prairie House by William R. Drennan for a book club a couple of years ago. I was shocked!!



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