Sunday, 20 October 2013

Under the Wide and Starry Sky: A Novel by Nancy Horan

The much-anticipated second novel by the author of Loving Frank, the beloved New York Times bestseller, this new work tells the incredible story of the passionate, turbulent relationship between Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his wild-tempered American wife, Fanny.

In her masterful new novel, Nancy Horan has recreated a love story that is as unique, passionate, and overwhelmingly powerful as the one between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney depicted so memorably in Loving Frank. Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics including Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer. And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world.

Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Expected publication: January 21st 2014 by Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Kristine's Thoughts:
* I received an e-copy of this book from Ballantine Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a fictional book based on actual events in the lives of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne Stevenson.  
This book is a love story through and through. When Louis meets Fanny she is a married woman who has travelled to France from the United States to escape her cheating husband and is grieving the loss of one of her three children. Times were very different in 1875 for a woman and divorce was not a simple option. So begins the story of their lives together. From the very beginning things were not easy and there were numerous struggles and obstacles at every turn. From Fanny's marriage, Louis's illness, financial difficulties, numerous moves, and later Fanny's illness, they endured an extreme amount of hardships.
Horan does a great job with bringing the characters to life in this book and making the reader believe in the love between the two of them. The way she describes Fanny as she cares for Louis during his numerous illnesses and their travel around the globe in search of the best climate shows the devotion that she had for Louis. I also really enjoyed reading about Louis and how his stories that we all know so well fit into their relationship. He was definitely an interesting and eccentric man and their life together was anything but normal.

This book is quite long and at times quite slow. Although the events in their lives were intriguing, I found that I had to set the book down and walk away numerous times. Because the story spans over two decades, many characters come in and out of their lives and I found it a bit confusing. I also did not feel any connection between Fanny and her children. The connection between Fanny and Louis was so strong but the lack of it with the rest of the characters left me not caring at all for or about them. Don't get me wrong, it is still a worthy read, just a long one.

In the end I did like the book and I would recommend it to others who enjoy this genre. It is worth reading just to know about the incredibly unusual life that these two lead and the love they had for each other.

About the Author
Nancy Horan is a writer and a journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband and two sons.



  1. Interesting! I have always been curious about what type of individual would write a book like Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde and it sounds like this gives some insight. Great review.

  2. I have Under the Wide and Starry Sky waiting to be read on my kindle. Besides my enjoyment of Loving Frank your review has gotten me excited to read it now. Great review!