A Book A Month (April): Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

April’s Book is Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. I’ve always been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and when I saw this book at my local second-hand store for $1,  I had to snatch it up. I hope you joined me in reading this book for April, but if not, here’s the review.

This book definitely inspired a future Oak Park adventure to see his houses.

Pages: 356 (there’s more but that includes an afterword, sources, and discussion questions)

Synopsis: Mamah Borthwick Cheney and her husband, Edwin, hired Frank Lloyd Wright to build a house and a love affair evolved. Their affair shocked Chicago, changed Mamah’s life drastically and ultimately ruined two families.

Review: Kudos to Horan for writing such a compelling novel about  Mamah’s life and how she influenced Frank Lloyd Wright’s. I had no idea that Lloyd Wright’s personal life was so scandalous and I still don’t think any less of him or his architectural accomplishments. Granted some of this storyline is fiction, but it all seemed so real. In most cases I would never cheer for a “home wrecker,” but for some reason I wanted Mamah to have all her wishes to come true.

Horan developed her character to seem so innocent and on a journey to find herself and her one true love. I did appreciate that Horan made the love affair a struggle for Mamah and kept her a very intelligent woman. I think that’s rare to find in a mistress character.

I would recommend this book to anyone, especially people who are Frank Lloyd Wright fans. It gives an intimate look into his life (again, yes, I know this is a novel and not all accounts are real) and how he functioned as an architect. I grew up loving his homes because my father is a big fan, but I didn’t know anything about how he ran his business or that his career had its ups and downs (pretty drastic downs).  I like said before, reading this book only made me want to go view his homes more. Mike and I have talked several times about seeing his homes in Oak Park, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing the tours once the weather is in our favor. Who wants to join? Maybe even a road trip to Taliesin is in order!

What did you think of the book? Comment below or maybe we can even do a Twitter Book Club Chat.

Buy the book on Amazon here.


5 thoughts on “A Book A Month (April): Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

    1. Oh my goodness! I can only dream of what that was like. What was the best part of it? I think mike and I are going to do our own tour of the burbs to see houses this summer.

  1. I grew up in Oak Park close to the epicenter of his works and became a docent for the FLW Home and Studio after college, giving walking tours of the various homes and buildings he designed in the neighborhood. I read the book a couple of years ago. While I enjoyed the book, knowing the back story I was not shocked by any of it but came away further convinced that FLW was such an ego he might not have had the capacity to truly love anyone other than himself.

    1. What are your favorite homes in Oak Park, Jody? I haven’t started researching for our tour yet, but I’d love to get your insight. I completely agree that FLW did not have the capacity to love anyone else. I think the part where Horan wrote about him buying pianos and rugs rather than paying his workers really showed that. I know that it’s not an example of love, but it shows his true selfishness.

  2. His Home and Studio is amazing. Unity Temple on Lake Street is a must see as the outside does not prepare you for the beauty of the inside. Love the homes on Forest down from the Home and Studio as they all have distinct personalities but I must say my absolute favorite is the Winslow house on Auvergne in River Forest, just off Lake Street. It has a terracotta brick that glows when the sun hits it. Breath taking! What is so amazing about Oak Park/River Forest is the number of homes you can see in a relatively small area. Take a walking or bike tour on a beautiful afternoon. You won’t regret it.

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