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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Book Club - "Loving Frank"

There were so many facets that I thought were wonderful with this book. Unlike my group I enjoyed the book by Nancy Horan even with the flawed characters and their unpopular choices. I felt it was more real this way, messy and turbulent and selfishness. I thought Mamah needed to love her genius, that he was what she was waiting for when she finally gave in and married Edwin. I think her great mistake is more the fact that she married (settled for) Edwin and less that she left him. Loving a genius is a heady feeling, he had his faults particularly with his ego and his money, but he challenged her on levels no one had ever been able to touch before including her safe and boring husband.

They were both dragged through the newspapers for their affair, running off to Europe seemingly without a care for anyone else. Both of their reputations were in shatters although Frank’s reputation was resurrected by the quality of his work later in life her situation remained the same for the rest of her life. Mamah also I feel was more vilified for leaving her children because she was a woman. Where was her maternal instincts, her selfless love for her children who had done no wrong. Although Frank also left behind children, six in fact, being a man and a genius he was forgiven by society.

I thought the book was beautifully written, even lyrical in some parts although again I seemed to be on the opposite side as the thoughts of my book club. I loved the mistakes, the heartaches, how the mind tormented them with their decisions that left many lives greatly effected. The book was based on as much fact as the author could gather but because events happened over a hundred years ago the conversations had to be created. I thought the author did an honest job of creating the conversations in the book that unfolded the characters in multiple layers. I also loved how the author touched on so many arts and topics of their lives peppering in poetry, architecture, idealism, love and nature.

In the end although I think all the characters flawed I loved how this love went against convention, how they both fought hard for what they wanted, that they chiselled out their happiness against great odds. I just cannot fully decide if their commitment was admirable or coldly chilling.

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