November Discussion - Loving Frank

Our November selection was Loving Frank, written by Nancy Horan.

This month we met at my home and I was happy to provide some entertainment for everyone while pouring glasses of wine. Jessie, my 2 year old dog, ate a ½ pound of cheese, 6 pieces of coffee cake and 12 seven layer bars which were displayed on the coffee table in my family room. I'm guessing she ate all of the food in less than a minute. She has never had food so close and the minute we walked out of the room she rejoiced! That’s a lot of food for a 40 pound dog.

We all know FLW and his architecture. He is a celebrated architect and all of his homes are considered historic. Only a few of us were familiar with his personal life, which is the center of this story.

Speaking for myself, I knew nothing about FLW’s personal life. This might surprise you since I studied architecture in college before changing my major, we didn’t focus on personal lives, only the glory of their work. At one point in the book, I wanted to go online to see if Mamah was a fictional character.

I really enjoyed reading this story and learning more about a man that I appreciate for his art and creativity. His work has influenced me and my surroundings.

Discussion:
All of us struggled with Mamah’s decision to leave her children behind to follow Frank across Europe. Being mother’s we couldn’t understand/comprehend how she justified these actions. The character in the novel seemed at ease with leaving them, knowing they would be surrounded with love and that they might understand someday. That said we did feel her struggle being an educated woman, a feminist, and living in the early 1900’s. We discussed this for a while, trying to reconcile if we were living back then how would we feel compared with today’s viewpoint.

We were all surprised to discover that FLW struggled with money and was in debt throughout the novel. He is a true artist, not a care in the world and with an ‘it will all work itself out’ mentality. Mamah didn’t have a dime to her name and struggled with the financial impact of her decisions throughout the story.

The fire, this was a brutal act of violence that I wasn't prepared for. I knew Mamah was murdered but I thought it would be related to her feminist work. Most of the women in our book group knew how she was murdered before reading the book but imagine learning about Mamah from this novel alone and you will get a sense of how I perceived her storyline. Not to give too much away for those of you that haven’t read the book, I will only say the ‘why’ was shocking to all of us.

We all enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about FLW. The novel was well researched, with articles to support the story and fictionalized letters to create involvement. You will talk to Mamah as you read this book, wanting to try to understand her more.

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