I just finished Loving Frank while on a plane yesterday. Although I really enjoyed Devil in the White City I was pretty ambivalent about reading Loving Frank.
Both are about Chicago, at least sort of, both feature architects and artists, and both have some historical fiction. Seems like my cup of tea, right? WRONG.
You see, I actually have an issue with books. It's one that I'm a little embarassed about, because I feel like it makes me seem immature, naive, and unworldly. And here it is: I actually can't get that into books whose protagonists do things that I don't approve of. I couldn't feel sorry for Frank and Mamah because they were both adulterers. Their spouses weren't abusive, cared for them, and their lives were nice. They both selfishly left home and family in the pursuit of "happiness."
I just can't get behind that. I couldn't feel bad for them, no matter the censure they recieved because a) they were adulters and fairly irresponsible, leaving others to clean up their mess at home, and b) they KNEW what would happen. Frank was well-known and Mamah well-respected in their community. It should have come as no surprise that they'd be shunned and censured. Does it suck? Yes. But it isn't shocking.
I did manage to cry at the end anyway (I won't tell you why, it'll ruin the book--although Pedant believes, and I sort of agree, that you can't ruin historically-based books because presumably the story is common knowledge), but I didn't love the book. There were some interesting feminist and philosophical ideas (Mamah Cheney was apparently friends with Ellen Key) but it mostly felt like a whiny "the world is against us, boo-hoo."
In conclusion, my book club sucks at picking books, we totally should have read Peony in Love.