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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

Loving Frank: A Novel

Loving Frank - Nancy Horan I'm sorry to say this book disappointed me a little. The main character Mamah Borthwick, the woman with whom Frank Lloyd Wright had a long extra-marital affair, is interesting enough, as are the times, however she seemed so blind to her own motives that I became frustrated with her. Frank himself is portrayed as such an unlikeable man (albeit with undeniable genius) that I couldn't see why Mamah would pay such an enormous price to be with him, virtually abandoning her children, destroying her reputation, and causing such harm to her husband and her sister. Genius alone didn't seem credible, nor did her assertion that she'd finally found someone she could talk to, someone who understood her. It smacked of the cliche. The threads of Ayn Rand's objectivism run through the fabric of this novel, and the end result is that the characters, in this author's opinion, seem adolescent and narcissistic, but even worse, in terms of fictional characters, they are blind to their own flaws. There are moments when they do take tiny peeks into their own souls, such as when Mamah discovers Wright's slipshod money management and the callous way in which he accumulates things "of great beauty" but never pays, leaving others to suffer for his pleasure. However, these seem rather tacked on, as though an editor suggested they ought to be there, rather than coming organically from the author's own experience of the characters. Finally, AND THERE IS A SPOILER HERE - I found the point of view flawed. The book is told in free indirect discourse, from Mamah's POV, which works well for almost the entire narrative -- right up until the point Mamah dies. Then it becomes...ahem...inconvenient, for obvious reasons, and the point of view shifts for the last two chapters to focus on Frank. I found this jarring and unsatisfying. In reading the author notes at the end I learned that Horan wrote the book twice, and the first time there were four points of view. She states it wasn't a very good book. Well, perhaps four was too many points of view but, in my opinion, she didn't quite solve the problem in the final version. Pity, because Horan shows much promise. Having said all that, there are some moments of lovely writing and insight, such as when, near the end of the book, Mamah describes Wright as someone who, "had come to mistake his gift for the whole of his character." As first novels go, it's pretty good, but I suspect some experience will serve her well. I look forward to seeing what she does in a few years.