It has taken me a couple of weeks to post about the novel Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan. I’ve been perplexed by it–seriously have wondered if the book was put forth with any expectation by the author that the reader would find any sympathy for the characters.

I had to let the book sink into my consciousness, because my judgments were so harsh and so quick. The book centers on the fictionalized, though probable, account of Frank Lloyd Wright and his affair with the wife of one of his clients, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Horan attempts to put forth their affair so that we should believe their actions are justifiable and even noble. Wright and Cheney fancy themselves other, different, exempt from the mores of society. They are geniuses and forward-thinking: they need not bother with the usual concerns that those in an affair would face–the breaking up of one’s marriage, the terrible impact on the children, the judgment of one’s peers. No, they were above it all (or we are asked to think so) because they were talented.

I work in a building designed by Wright, and his persona is celebrated and hovers in the air each day as I make my way to my desk. I’ve often wondered about the man who thought up those walls, the angles of those staircases, those halls. I imagined him brilliant and eccentric. The truth? He was those things. Mamah was too, to some extent. But, they were also egocentric, pompous, self-absorbed, ugly. ###

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