Loving Frank by Nancy Horan Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Loving Frank

Plot Summary Part 4

Mamah has a big fight with Frank. He is spending a ton of money on the house and furniture and pianos (three pianos), leaving no money to pay his workers. Frank sees himself as superior to the common man and doesn't see the need to pay them, his needs come first. He's very much like Mamah, who puts her needs above those of her family. But Mamah hates him for not paying people who owe him money and yells at him.

Frank goes away for a while. Mamah stays with the house but fires a black servant named Julian. Julian does not take this very well. He comes into the house and his pants look wet like he has peed in them. He also has a big ax. Mamah is there with her kids. She screams for her kids to run and she tries to run too, but Julian takes his ax and chops Mamah's head neatly in half like a cantaloupe.

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But her kids, they escape to safety, right?

Nope! Julian chops up John into little pieces. He chops up Martha and she lives a few hours in tremendous pain before dying. Then Julian burns down Frank's fancy new house. Then he goes and chops some of the workers to pieces.

Just think: if Mamah hadn't committed adultery, her kids would be alive and well with a mother.

When Frank hears that Mamah is dead, Frank is very, very upset for at least several seconds. Then he tells a friend, "Well, time to start designing new houses again!", as if nothing had happened.

The end.

Literary Criticism:

I really hated this book. It was supposed to be the story of a romance with a brilliant man. We were supposed to be wowed by the intellectual and emotional connection between Frank and Mamah. Nothing of the story came across. Instead it looked like a story of two selfish adulterers who did whatever they liked without caring about the consequences to others. The two main characters were so unlikeable that the story was unlikeable. The story was stuffed with descriptions of architecture, art, and high-society concepts which felt like extraneous filler. The story was over 350 pages but it felt like very little happened.

I realize that this is loosely based on actual historical figures, but maybe this wasn't such a great subject to write about. Writing about adulterers is bad enough, but adulterers with nine kids between them, who they abandoned without a second thought?

Frank designed houses. Great. But the story of designing houses may be great for a "how-to" book, but not a work of literature. Literature is about feelings and relationships. Frank boned Mamah early on and she followed him around the world like a puppy dog but their relationship never really progressed. Things happened--they were chased by the press, and Mamah fell in love with the feminist Ellen Key. But nothing that felt substantial, drama wise. I don't think there was enough there to write an interesting story about these people.

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Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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