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Book Club Sun Aug 08 2010

Resources and Discussion Questions for Loving Frank

This month we have been reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Our August meeting is Monday, August 9. I realize this is last minute, but here are some additional resources about Frank Lloyd Wright and the novel, and some discussion questions we will use at the meeting. Hope to see some of you there.

Resources

Loving Frank
The official website for the novel. Includes trivia about the Frank Lloyd Wright, photo galleries, interviews with author Nancy Horan and more.

"When Frank Lloyd Wright Scandalized Chicago"
Review of the novel from the NY Times.

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
This nonprofit organization was established by the architect and currently maintains both Taliesin and Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives and much more.

Discussion Questions
These questions are taken from the publisher's reading guide which you can download from the Random House website here.

Do you think that Mamah is right to leave her husband and children in order to pursue her personal growth and the relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright? Is she being selfish to put her own happiness and fulfillment first?

Why do you think the author, Nancy Horan, gave her novel the title Loving Frank? Does this title work against the feminist message of the novel? Is there a feminist message?

Do you think that a woman today who made the choices that Mamah makes would receive a more sympathetic or understanding hearing from the media and the general public?

If Mamah were alive today, would she be satisfied with the progress women have achieved or would she believe there was still a long way to go?

Is Mamah's story relevant to the women of today?

Is Frank Lloyd Wright an admirable figure in this novel? Would it change your opinion of him to know that he married twice more in his life?

What about Edwin Cheney, Mamah's husband? Did he behave as you might have expected after learning of the affair between his wife and Wright?

In analyzing the failure of the women's movement to make more progress, Mamah says, "Yet women are part of the problem. We plan dinner parties and make flowers out of crepe paper. Too many of us make small lives for ourselves." Was this a valid criticism at the time, and is it one today?

Why is Mamah's friendship with Else Lasker Schuler important in the book?

Ellen Key, the Swedish feminist whose work so profoundly influences Mamah, states at one point, "The very legitimate right of a free love can never be acceptable if it is enjoyed at the expense of maternal love." Do you agree?

Another of Ellen Key's beliefs was that motherhood should be recompensed by the state. Do you think an idea like this could ever catch on in America? Why or why not?

Is there anything that Frank and Mamah could have done differently after their return to America that would have ameliorated the harsh welcome they received from the press? Have things changed very much in that regard today?

 
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