Loving Frank by Nancy Horan


Mamah Borthwick Cheney left her husband and two children for Frank Lloyd Wright who had designed their house in Oak Park.  They were together from 1907 until 1914 when she and her two children (and four other men) were murdered by a crazed man who worked for them.  This fictionalized account of their time together is based on much documentation including newspaper accounts and letters she wrote which were discovered during the course of the writing of this book.

Though she is mainly known for her connection to the outsized Wright, she was a well-educated woman who had taught school and had run a library at Port Huron, Michigan before marrying Cheney.  She translated works from Swedish by Ellen Key, a feminist who began writing in the 1870s and lived until 1926.  Her own diaries were destroyed in the fire set by the madman.

Loving Frank was a challenge for Mamah for lots of reasons; she had two beloved children that she left behind, she had been friends with the first Mrs. Wright, she bore much vitriole for leaving her family and living with another woman's husband, and then there's Frank himself.  Though she surely found him a wonderful intellectual partner and he introduced her to exciting new worlds, his boundless ego must have been quite a trial.  He spent any money that came his way without regard for what he already owed.  And this was most painful in the case of workmen who depended on his pay to support their families.  He was not a dependable business partner and considered himself, the artist, above the usual considerations.  And then times were much harder as a result of the publicity about leaving his wife and living with Mamah.

This is a nicely done book about the truly amazing artist Frank Lloyd Wright through the eyes of a very appealing woman.

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