Friday, October 3, 2008

Loving Frank, The End

I finished Loving Frank this week. I have mixed feelings. I think overall the book is good: good writing, interesting characters, based on true life events, etc. However, I had a hard time relating and even liking the main character, Mamah. Like I said in my previous post, I found her to be rather selfish. And she continued on this path throughout the book. And the author paints a picture of Frank Lloyd Wright as a eccentric, egotistical artist who was far in debt. (The author used many sources in her research and I think Wright was known in this way in many circles, so I don't feel she was exaggerating.)

So, what did Mamah see in him? I think he was a man who could understand the fight women were going through in the early 1900s, trying to get the right to vote, equal pay and credit for the work they did. He was more evolved in that way, plus he talked about his feelings and respected her intelligent thoughts about the world. I can definitely see how, to a woman who felt she was in a loveless marriage to a nice, but simple man, this would sweep her off her feet. But sweep her so far as to abandon her children and the rest of her family? That seems crazy to me.

In the midst of her time with Wright in Europe, Mamah met a Swedish feminist, Ellen Key, who seemed to echo her views about life: conventional marriage may not be for every woman, work and fair wages are important for women, perhaps more important than children, and women have so much further to come. A lot of this interested me because I never realized how many women more than 100 years ago were fighting for these rights, and I never realized how many women were in fact very outspoken about these things. Good for them! In the book, this conversation between Mamah and Ellen Key stood out to me, as I think these words could still be considered in today's world:
Men have always been trained to have the courage to dare. Women, on the other hand, are stuck being the keepers of memories and traditions. We've become the great conservators. Oh, I suppose we're suppler, as a result, because we've learned to see many sides. But what a price has been paid. It has kept us from greatness! And most women are happy just to repeat opinions and judgments they've heard, as if they thought of the ideas themselves. It's dangerous! Women need to understand evolutionary science, philosophy, art. They need to expand their knowledge and stop assassinating each others' characters.
I also liked this quote that came a few graphs later:
Attack the personal character of the thinker, and you will kill her ideas.
All very true, still to this day. So, overall, it was a good book. It was entertaining, for the feminist viewpoints and because much was set in the Midwest. I learned more about that time in history, and a lot more about the motivations of Wright, an architect whose buildings can be found on streets around here. I followed my coworkers advice and didn't Wikipedia any of the characters, and I was pretty shocked by the ending. Tragic. I did however look him up afterward, and it was just as interesting to read how Wright lived out the rest of his life as well.


Charley said...

I haven't read this, but a friend of mine is, and she's been describing it to me. From what I know so far, Mamah and Frank sound incredibly selfish and completely undeserving of their spouses and families, and they're just sad, sad little people. I probably shouldn't judge them, since I don't know their circumstances and will probably never read the book, but I guess I'm pretty harsh on adultery.

Through My Lens said...

I need a good read. Since I had my baby almost a year ago, I've stopped reading and I want to get back into the habit. Do you have any suggestions for some gripping, engaging, and meaningful novels?

A. said...

Through my lens,

Thanks for your question. Here are a few of my favorite novels that I found memorable and interesting (however some are sad):

The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
(Absolutely beautiful stories, though heartbreaking)

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Seabold

Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer
(though this is non-fiction, it's excellent)

Middlesex, by Jeffery Eugenides
(I liked this book more for the fact that it made me think, because it was a little disturbing and depressing with topics such as incest and violence)

Nineteen Minutes & My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
(I've read several of her books, and I feel these are her strongest and most engaging novels)

Does that get you started? If you've read all these and need different suggestions, let me know.

Through My Lens said...

Thanks for your response! :)

The Kite Runner - read and enjoyed!

The Lovely Bones - read!

Middlesex - read and love it.

Under the Banner of Heaven - will try!

A Thousand Splendid Suns - need to try!

Nineteen Minutes & My Sister's Keeper - will try!