Saturday, November 15, 2008

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Many years ago, I worked as a manager of a movie theatre. There was a movie critic in our town named Bruce Miller who was a fun, funny guy and I enjoyed visiting with him whenever he came in to review a new film. Once, he came in to watch a comedy that was opening and I decided to join him. We sat together and laughed and laughed! To the point where we were slapping each other on the arms and spitting popcorn into the air! It was great fun and I was so excited for the newspaper to come out so I could read his review!
But he slaughtered it! He wrote the most scathing review I had ever read and it left me baffled.
It was a comedy.
A mindless, ridiculous comedy.
It did not ever tout itself as the next Academy Award Winner! It did not advertise to draw the viewer who would be interested in seeing the next Academy Award Winner. It was just supposed to be fun. And it was! I had the sore stomach from belly laughs and bruised arms from our smacking each other to prove it.
I vowed then and there to take things for what they are. His review should have said, “If you just feel like laughing your a-double-s off for an hour and a half, this is your flick!”

So, I am here to tell you, I absolutely loved Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. It is what it is: a love story. It did not try to be anything else. Just Loving Frank. This novel is historical fiction, based on research on Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick, the wife of a client.
It is not about sex or even about some sleazy romance. It is about loving someone and how that love changes your life.
The book is extremely well-written, and while it is a fictional piece, it is based on truth and reads like a biography. I have always admired Frank Lloyd Wright’s work and have been to a couple of his homes. Additionally, the story follows Mamah (May-muh) and Frank as they left their spouses and journeyed throughout Europe, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Illinois ... all places I have either traveled or lived. It was so incredibly easy for me to visualize each and every backdrop.
I felt sorry for Mamah and the scandal that loving Frank brought into her life. She was an activist for women and for the rights of women not only to vote and earn equal wages, but to follow their dreams, their own personalities ... their loves.
Sadly the press absolutely hounded them for Frank Lloyd Wright was already somewhat of a celebrity at the time of their more than ten year affair. Mamah was truly the love of his life and she noticeably influenced his work during that time and probably long after.
The story is not so much scandalous as tragic. However, I was able to see the happiness and adoration these two souls had for each other.
The author beautifully weaves real newspaper clippings and letters with facts and historical truths and imagined dialogs and events.
I will say, as much as I thought I knew about Frank Lloyd Wright, there was a lot I absolutely did not know, including the relationship with Mamah Borthwick and it’s extremely tragic ending. It left me wanting to do more research and more traveling. I truly appreciate anything that makes me hungry for more knowledge.
But first and foremost, it is what it is.
It is a love story ... and I loved it.


Lauren said...

I love Frank Lloyd Wright! I'll have to find and read this book. Thanks for the review, Rebecca.

bev said...

Great post. Now I need to read the book. Who has time? Just make more to fit it in. Right?