Nancy Horan’s historical novel Loving Frank portrays the relationship between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his life partner Mamah Borthwick. The novel follows the historical record quite closely. By dint of extensive research Horan tries to show the inner life of Mamah and the tension of the time she inhabits.
The story takes place in the early 20th century. Women have yet to receive the right to vote and divorce creates a scandal that most women would never recover from. As a married woman, having an affair with a public figure Mamah has put herself in a soul shredding position.
Initially you worry that Mamah will be an Anna Karenina, acting reluctantly and never coming to grips with the new reality she has created for herself. Over time we see a heroine stripped to the core of her soul and rebuilt into a woman, with regrets it is true, but essentially strong and perceptive. Mamah manages to live with a genius without being subsumed by him.
As a strong believer in the Women Movement, Mamah gives glimpses of two opposing sides in the movement. Examining Mamah’s relationship with Ellen Key gives the reader a glimpse into the international scope of the movement Horan also gives a little bit of an architecture lesson by showing Wright’s evolution from his prairie period to an architecture in tune with its surroundings as brought to fruition in the couples’ home, Taliesin.
But the novel is essentially Mamah’s. and is a mirror to the soul of one woman and the forces that molded her.
If you like historical novels centered on real people you will read this one and feel acquainted with Mamah Borthwick in all her strengths, aspirations, and weaknesses. Check out this book through the LIBBY app provided by the Augusta-Richmond County Library. For more information or assistance, please contact your local branch library or check the website at arcpls.org.