Nancy Horan's debut work, Loving Frank, took approximately seven years to pen and a least one complete rewrite. Regardless, the seemingly effortless prose led to an auspicious debut, to say the least. Though the title refers to Frank Lloyd Wright, the true muse in this novelized true-life tale is Mamah Borthwick Cheney. The two met when Cheney's husband commissioned a home from Wright. What followed was an affair that resulted in both Cheney and Wright leaving their families behind, and a media frenzy that would haunt them the rest of their days. While this may sound like prime stomping ground for a biography (or a harlequin romance), Horan gives events a human-yet-literary feel. A meticulous researcher, she admirably mostly sticks to fact to re-create the world and the issues that Cheney grappled with. Though the affair is the central driving force of Loving Frank, it's Cheney's struggles with concepts of feminism, motherhood, and divorce that really bring Frank alive. The end doesn't tie up neatly (as most real lives don't), yet Horan manages to create a complex voice in Mamah Cheney—a woman who probably influenced Wright far more than the footnote in a Wright biography would imply.
Wed., Oct. 10, 7 p.m., 2007
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