Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Loving Frank

Wow. This book first hit my radar when Lisa told me about it and recommended it on her blog.

This book is about Frank Lloyd Wright and his affair with Mamah (May-mah) Borthwick Cheney. The affair is real, but little is publicly known about their relationship that turned heads and caused quite the scandal in the early 1900s.

Frank and Mamah are both married and have children, when Mamah and her husband, Edwin Cheney, hire Frank to build them a house in Oak Park, Illinois. They eventually leave their spouses and travel around Europe for over a year. Mamah, a graduate of the University of Michigan, has always been a feminist, but this time apart from her husband and her children really help her realize who she is. She gives up her family for her quest at living honestly, loving freely and rejoicing in her womanhood. Quite the scandal for 1909.

In this day and age so much about their relationship would have been okay and hampered on in the public as much and I think they would have been able to live without the ridicule and harassment. They would have been able to obtain divorces and regardless of her extra-marital affairs, leaving her husband would not deny Mamah her children. I find this so absurd. Yeah, men who rarely partook in the raising of the children, would keep them from the mother in a divorce to 'hurt' them but yet, in the end only harmed the children. Ah, the logic of olden day times and times before women HAD THE RIGHT TO VOTE or to NOT be property of their husband.

Wow. I really could not imagine what Mamah had to go through in losing her children to be with her 'love.' Her and Frank connected with the words of wisdom 'one only lives but once.'

I will say the book did portray Frank to be an asshole and Mamah to be a little too following for being such a 'feminist.' However, the feminists of the early 1900s are probably slightly more different than the feminists of today. Speaking of feminists, why is saying you are a feminist a bad thing? Quite frankly, I find a woman who doesn't consider herself to be a feminist a fraud. Do you not strive to be equal? To be treated for respect of your work and not your boob size? Do you want to be discriminated against? But that is yet another rant.

I really enjoyed the novel and it made me think and it was just pretty much amazing and I think all of you should read it as well. Oh and I second Lisa, the last part of the book is heartbreaking. I did wonder how it was going to wrap up in the next few pages, but the ending, so sad. I am glad I saved my googling on the subject until I was all done.

What book do you recommend that has a strong female role?


Amber said...

Oh wow that book sounds really interesting, I'll have to check it out.

I agree that the word 'feminist' kind of has a bad rap but when you think about it, most women ARE feminists to some extent.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I am glad you liked this book as much as I did. It definitely made me SO SO SO curious about FLW. If you ever go to Chicago, I highly recommend touring his studio/home in Oak Park. It is AH-mazing. I went w/ my sister in law last year and she still raves about it!!!

Becky said...

I just borrowed this book from a friend - can't wait to read it!

Marie Cloutier said...

I liked this book a lot, too, more than I expected to. I thought Mamah was such a complex, tragic figure and her love story with Frank Lloyd Wright so sad.