Exciting News about Historical Fiction Lovers Book Club!

January 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Posted in Books, Historical Fiction | 8 Comments
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As I mentioned before, I joined the Book Clubs application on Facebook and started my own online book club ~ Historical Fiction Lovers.  We started the club reading Loving Frank and seven of us completed the Reader’s Guide and Review form.  There was some really good discussion, especially about Mamah and her choices.  I found out that HFL was awarded the first Book Club of the Month award and I am SUPER ecstatic about it.  Here is what was posted on the site about our book club:

A passion for novels blending history, literature and romance is what drives January’s Book Club of the Month: Historical Fiction Lovers. The group, created by Jennifer, is a good case study of how to run a successful online book club.

Jennifer, who juggles a career and a family, somehow finds time to blog (https://literatehousewife.wordpress.com), participate in reading challenges and run her group, Historical Fiction Lovers.

The group’s January selection is Loving Frank, a novel by Nancy Horan about a scandalous romance between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mamah Cheney, a well-educated, independent and married Chicago woman. It’s not escapist fare.

As a leader, Jennifer sets a tone for the group by suggesting appropriate novels, and then discussing which novels will be read and when. She also organizes discussions in an easy-to-follow manner.
As a thank you, we will be sending Jennifer five books to distribute as she sees fit. Please let us know if you feel your group is ready for the spotlight in February!

Historical Fiction Lovers is one of more than 100 public Book Clubs and 20 private ones created by our members. There are clubs built around specific authors or book series, some are regional, but most concern categories of books such as mysteries, romance or classics.

We are especially grateful to Book Club leaders such as Jennifer who help drive discussions, select good books and invite their friends to take part. We encourage every member to contribute new topics or respond to comments or questions by other club members. Book Clubs is a community-based application and member participation is vital to a successful experience.

cover-of-soul-catcherOn top of the honor of winning, my group receives five copies of our chosen book for February, Soul Catcher by Michael White.  I’m awarding a copy of this book to the five members other than Rusty Weston, the soul behind Book Clubs, and myself a copy of Soul Catcher.

Here’s a brief description of the novel from the HarperCollins website:

Augustus Cain is a damaged man haunted by a terrible skill: the ability to track people who don’t want to be found. Rosetta is a runaway slave who bears the scars, inside and out, of a life of servitude to a cruel and unforgiving master. Her flight is fueled by a passion and determination only a mother could feel, and she would rather die than let anyone drag her back to hell. In a dark, volatile time prior to the Civil War, fate has bound the hunted and hunter on a remarkable odyssey from Virginia to Boston and back again—an extraordinary test of character and will, mercy and compassion, that will change them both forever.

Interested?  Why don’t you join us?  Click here to buy the book and here for a look inside the novel.  Book Clubs is a Facebook application.  It doesn’t take long to join and it’s free.

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#134 ~ Loving Frank

January 13, 2009 at 11:28 pm | Posted in Books, Historical Fiction, Reading | 10 Comments
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Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

In search of a home of his own, Mr. Edwin Cheney of Chicago convinced his wife Mamah to agree to commissioning a local American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, to design and build their family home. Mr. Cheney gained his house, but he couldn’t have known that he would ultimately lose his wife to the architect. Loving Frank tells the story of the love affair of Mamah and Frank from Mamah’s perspective. Mamah’s decision to leave the husband for which she never had any passion cost her as well. In her time, adulterous women lost custody of their children and their reputations to boot. Her story is one of heartache, sensuality, and the discovery of who she is and who she wants to be.

Loving Frank reads like a story out of 19th feminist literature like The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. In so many ways, unfortunately, Mamah is the embodiment of Edna Pontellier. She finds her self dissatisfied with domestic life and agonizes over the realization that she really knew beforehand that she shouldn’t have married Edwin. Although he respects her father and cares for her family, he is not a creative soul. Frank Lloyd Wright is. As he, too, has grown unhappy in his own marriage, it’s only a matter of time before the two begin an affair. After leaving her family to run away with her lover, she comes face to face with the reality of living with Frank. Frank may be a man of vision, but he is all too human. He has deep character flaws that cause her distress and embarrassment. The guilt of leaving her children and the ill effects of being under the harsh spotlight of a the scandal loving media start to take their tole. It is only after attending a speech by Ellen Key, a feminist writer famous in Europe, that she starts to understand that the secret to her own happiness and fulfillment can come from no place but within herself.

Mamah and Frank are both self-centric people and are often unlikable. They both want the fairytale life, but tend to whine when it isn’t handed to them on a silver platter. Although he thought of Mamah as his intellectual equal, Frank was dismayed repetitively when she wanted to leave his side to pursue her own goals. Mamah continually found it difficult to love Frank through his human weaknesses. They both wanted nothing more than to express their creativity. Neither really cared to get their hands messy with the work of keeping relationships together. Had fate not intervened in the end, it seems doubtful that their relationship could have survived after the drama created by their scandalous relationship died down.

This review was difficult to write. I enjoyed Loving Frank , despite the fact that portions of the novel seemed long and dry. Given their personalities, it was often difficult to sympathize with Mamah and Frank. That being said, to enjoy a novel, it is not necessary to like the main characters. Lolita is one of my favorite novels, but I do not like nor agree with Humbert Humbert. The exploration of feminism in the early 2oth century through Mamah’s growth as a woman was very interesting. In that day and time, a woman lost her place as mother when she willingly gave up her place as wife. For women with children, personal freedom came at a huge cost. As the narrative tended to wander off course in some areas and then the author included too many unnecessary details in other, there were loose ends that were not tied up in the end. What could have been a brilliant, emotional and powerful conclusion to Mamah and Frank’s story fizzled. I would still recommend this novel, most especially for a class about early feminist literature. Although this is a work of historical fiction, it would provide the perspective of a woman living in America at the time.

*******

To buy this novel, click here.

Historical Fiction Lovers Book Club

December 19, 2008 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Books, Reading | 10 Comments
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I really am enjoying Book Clubs on Facebook!  I set up a book club for historical fiction called Historical Fiction Lovers and our first novel is going to be Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.  One of my high school classmates suggested it a few months ago.  I’ve been to Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Fallingwater near Ohiopyle, PA, but I had no idea that he was involved in a scandalous affair while working on a house in Grand Rapids, MI – my hometown!  This makes me even more excited to read this novel.

What’s nice about having the book club on this application is that it allows for a wall like your Facebook profile, has a discussion board, and has a neat built in discussion guide form that each member can fill out.  Based on everyone’s responses, you can really start some great conversations.  I definitely like this more than just a stand alone forum.  I think you will, too.

So far, ten people have signed up, but there’s always room for more!  We’re going to begin our discussion on January 5th.  If you’d be interested in joining us, here is a link to the club.  You do need to be a member of Facebook, but it takes just seconds to join.  I’d love to have you.  If historical fiction isn’t your thing (for shame!), there are currently 52 other book clubs.  Best of all, you can always add your own.

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