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Biography Review: "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan

Updated on October 17, 2015
DeborahDian profile image

Deborah Dian, a published author and voracious reader, often shares books with her friends and family. She loves to write reviews!

Despite His Scandalous Personal Life, Frank Lloyd Wright Was an Amazing Architect. Unfortunately, for Nearly a Decade, His Personal Life Overshadowed his Archi

Nearly everyone admired the homes that Wright built.  However, his affair was so scandalous, people would cross the street to avoid talking to him.  The scandal nearly ruined his career and did destroy people he cared about.
Nearly everyone admired the homes that Wright built. However, his affair was so scandalous, people would cross the street to avoid talking to him. The scandal nearly ruined his career and did destroy people he cared about. | Source

Wright's Scandal Nearly Destroyed His Career

Even in today's fairly liberal, modern world, if an affluent, well-known couple left their spouses and their children behind in order to run away together, it would create a scandal that would almost certainly be featured in "National Enquirer" and "People Magazine." Depending on how well-known they are, it might even make the television news and talk shows. In the early 1900s in the midwestern city of Chicago, such an affair was even more shocking than it would be today. People were absolutely shocked and many were angry.

The biography, "Loving Frank", retells the true story of the tragic and scandalous relationship between well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick, the wife of one of his clients, during the years from 1907 through 1914.

"Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan (available from Amazon, below) covers a period of time during which social mores were changing in both the United States and Europe, although most people still held very conservative, traditional views of marriage. While both Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick struggled with the implications of their actions on their children and spouses, Mamah was also a feminist who was more concerned about her right to live a life that was free of the restrictions of a traditional marriage than she was about the right to vote or other women's issues. Sadly, living that life also meant that she was not able to keep her children.

During these years, Mamah spent some time in Europe where she met the Swedish feminist Ellen Key. Key encouraged Mamah to examine her own motivations in leaving her husband and children in order to be with Frank, and to consider whether she was simply trading one restrictive situation for another one. The discussions and letters that are shared in the book are very thought-provoking.

This biography deals with far more than the simple rehashing of an affair that occurred a century ago. It also introduces readers to the emergence of the women's independence movement in the early 20th century, as well as changing morality and values in Europe and the United States. In addition, it provides insight into how this early example of celebrity news affected the private lives of people, especially after the affair of Mamah and Frank was paraded across the front pages of Chicago's newspapers. The press loved this story, regardless of how much damage their stories did and how many people were hurt ... including the children of the infamous couple.

Whether you are interested in biographies, scandals, early 20th century history or the women's movement, this book is certain to fascinate you. As one of the women in my bookclub declared, "I loved the book but hated the people." I wonder if you will feel the same way.

I highly recommend this book and would rate it 5 Stars for anyone who is enjoys reading biographies, especially those that deal with women's history.

Watch This Video Interview with the Author

Learn more about the background of this book and what compelled the author to write it. I always find it fascinating to learn more about any book from the viewpoint of the author.

Watch the Video Above

It is a memorable interview with the author of "Loving Frank."


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    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      This tragic book was fascinating because of the things I learned about the early 20th Century, the women's rights movement, changing attitudes during this period of time, and more. Although the affair of Frank Lloyd Wright is shocking, it is also an interesting book to read.

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      @cdevries: You are so right that this is a tragic story. I was completely stunned when I read it.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 3 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I also didn't realize there was a book written about this affair. Interesting review.

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 3 years ago

      I've been meaning to read this book - thanks for the review. It's a fascinating story... and a tragic one. I'm a theater set designer and have worked in a FLW theater that some claim he haunts. (I haven't seen him myself.)

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 3 years ago

      I knew about the scandal but didn't realize there was a novel about it. Nice review!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for sharing this.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I read this book several years ago and really enjoyed it. Thanks for your review...brings back memories of the book.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 3 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I perceive a lot of heartache and heartbreak in the pages of this book, and the others you featured!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      That closing comment intrigues me (about loving the book but hating the people). It makes me wonder if I could love a book that revealed individuals I found less than likeable. I guess I'll have to read it to know for sure. Of course, that is assuming that I will feel the same way about the main characters. We shall see. Having lived in the suburbs of Chicago, I can relate to what the author shared in the video featured here. Frank Lloyd Wright is an enigma if you have lived where he left his essence.