My father has always been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and used to drag our family on tours of his homes; namely, the Pope-Leighey House and Fallingwater. Fallingwater was a marvel, and after touring it, I also developed an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. I knew nothing, however, of his personal life.
When I read historical fiction, I usually poke around the Internet learning about the subject a bit before diving into the book. I did not do that in this case, however, and I’m very glad. I’ve never been more shocked at a book ending, and to think that it really happened…
Loving Frank, a novel by Nancy Horan, is about the love affair between Mamah Borthwick Chaney and famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had FLW design a home for them. Mamah and Frank–in spite of both being married with children–started a love affair that destroyed both of their families and reputations. The novel follows Mamah as she attempts to stop the affair, resolves to continue it, and finds herself while traveling through Europe with the architect. The reader watches Mamah try to rationalize her choices and break free of domestic “confinement,” while the novel pushes toward its shocking conclusion.
This book is extremely well written. Loving Frank is Nancy Horan’s first novel, and it is a marvel. The extent of her research is evident in the text, and she artfully balances information with fiction, and history with prose. She seamlessly fits together what is real and what is not, and her text notes clarify each. Out of the starting gate, Horan has shown herself as one of the best in historical fiction writing. I look forward to reading more of her work.