Sin in the Second City is by Karen Abbott and is a fascinatingly juicy account of one of the most well-known brothels in U.S. history, the Everleigh Club. Though the book is nonfiction, it read like a novel and the style reminded me very much of Devil in the White City (that's what I was reading during my Chicago trip last summer. You can read about my take on that one here). The book combines all sorts of things, mixing them up in an interesting way: politics, bribery, sex, business, marketing, white slavery, and much more. The Everleigh sisters were savvy, successful business women who made quite a name for themselves.
I was back in Atlanta before I could start Loving Frank, but I've been enjoying it in the evenings on my patio, as thankfully, the temperatures have cooled down a bit lately. It's historical fiction and the story of a love affair between Chicago-area architect Frank Lloyd Wright and one of his clients, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. As I read the book, I felt its peaceful, easy flow, which explains why I felt so jarred as a dramatic event unfolded near the end of the book (I don't want to give it away for those who haven't read the book and plan to). I had to tell myself that its disruptive feel was the whole point. It was certainly an event and an end to the book that was very unexpected.
Wright made a name for himself in a Chicago suburb, Oak Park, and many of the homes in that area that he designed are still standing. The home he shared with his wife, Catherine, and their children is open to the public. If I can make it back to Chicago sometime, I'm going to be sure to check it out. I've also just learned that another home he designed in the Chicago area recently opened to the public. You can learn more about that house here.
Both of these books are quite good reads and present two interesting views of women around the turn of the 20th century in the Chicago area who are striving to break through societal restraints and create their own rules.