There’s something about a book when you can love it completely but find the characters completely repugnant at the same time. While that may be a little harsh, I did find myself more than a little annoyed with Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney as portrayed in Nancy Horan’s compelling book, Loving Frank.
Growing up five minutes from the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, I was somewhat familiar with the story: Wright builds Cheney and her husband a home. Sometime during the construction, Cheney and Wright fall in love. There is quite a scandal and they eventually end up living in Wisconsin where Cheney is murdered.
A historical account would be interesting, but Horan makes the romance a compelling read by blending both fact and fiction. She portrays Cheney as a highly educated woman struggling to come to terms with her role as a wife and mother in Suburban Chicago around the turn of the 20th Century. While I at times felt sympathetic for Cheney, I just could not excuse her abandonment of her children and ignorance to how her actions would affect those close to her. While Wright was a genius, he was also an irresponsible ass. His behavior was just as exasperating which at times made it even harder to understand why Cheney could give up everything for a life with Frank. Yet despite this in the end I still felt sad for what they could have had.