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Under the Wide and Starry Sky

by

Under the Wide and Starry Sky Cover

ISBN13: 9780345516534
ISBN10: 0345516532
All Product Details

 

Staff Pick

This engaging tale of historical fiction indulges the reader with a telling portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson and his fiercely independent wife, Fanny. Fans of Stevenson will especially enjoy this glimpse into the couple's exciting yet turbulent life as they travel the globe.
Recommended by Jen C., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From Nancy Horan, New York Times bestselling author of Loving Frank, comes her much-anticipated second novel, which tells the improbable love story of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny.

At the age of thirty-five, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne has left her philandering husband in San Francisco to set sail for Belgium — with her three children and nanny in tow — to study art. It is a chance for this adventurous woman to start over, to make a better life for all of them, and to pursue her own desires. Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her children repair to a quiet artists’ colony in France where she can recuperate. Emerging from a deep sorrow, she meets a lively Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who falls instantly in love with the earthy, independent, and opinionated “belle Americaine.”

Fanny does not immediately take to the slender young lawyer who longs to devote his life to writing — and who would eventually pen such classics as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In time, though, she succumbs to Stevenson’s charms, and the two begin a fierce love affair — marked by intense joy and harrowing darkness — that spans the decades and the globe. The shared life of these two strong-willed individuals unfolds into an adventure as impassioned and unpredictable as any of Stevenson’s own unforgettable tales.

Review:

“Horan’s spectacular second novel has been worth the wait. Brimming with the same artistic verve that drives her complicated protagonists, it follows the loving, tumultuous partnership of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his Indiana-born wife, Fanny Osbourne....Equally adventurous and colorful, Louis and Fanny could each command the story singlehandedly. Together, they are riveting and insightfully envisioned, including through moving depiction of how their relationship transforms over time....An exhilarating epic about a free-spirited couple who traveled the world yet found home only in one another.” Booklist (starred review)

Review:

“This beautifully written novel, neatly balanced between its two protagonists, makes them come alive with grace, humor, and understanding. Horan’s empathy for both Louis and Fanny allows her to capture their life together with all the complexity and nuance of a real-life relationship.” Publishers Weekly

Review:

“Fans of Loving Frank will adore this authentic, richly detailed, and utterly captivating new novel from Nancy Horan. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a globe-spanning literary wonder — the perfect book for those who read fiction in search of the truth.” Jamie Ford, author of Songs of Willow Frost

Review:

“Fanny and Louis are wild-hearted seekers, and Nancy Horan traces their incredible journey fearlessly, plunging us through decades, far-flung continents, and chilling brushes with death. Ambitious and often breathtaking, this sweeping story spills over with spirited, uncompromising life.” Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

About the Author

Nancy Horan is the author of Loving Frank. She is also a journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications. She has two sons, and lives with her husband on an island in Puget Sound.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

Book Drunkard, March 21, 2014 (view all comments by Book Drunkard)
Under the Wide and Starry Sky is the first book I’ve read by Nancy Horan, although this is her second novel. I will certainly be reading her first as I really enjoyed this story of the love affair between Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne.

I didn’t know much about RLS aside from I knew he was the author of some great works and I knew even less about Fanny. Reading this book made me want to know more about both and that’s always an important test for me when reading historical fiction. Their relationship was complex, to say the least, but sometimes the best relationships are. And they always make the best stories! Nancy Horan does an amazing job of bringing their story to life. Even the secondary characters are written with care and they add a lot to the story.

The book is long at 496 pages but not long in the sense that it didn’t drag at all. Every chapter and paragraph was written with great care and added to the greatness of the story for me. I didn’t find anything that felt ‘thrown in’ for the sake of book length. Nancy Horan is a wonderful writer who seems to pay a great amount of attention to detail.

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

(Requiem, Robert Louis Stevenson)
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
The Book Goddess, January 22, 2014 (view all comments by The Book Goddess)
The concept of reading a fictionalized tale of actual people and their lives always fascinates me. I requested a copy of this novel to review from Net Galley based on the description on the book jacket. This story covers the turbulent lives of the acclaimed author of Treasure Island and Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde and his eccentric, american wife, Fanny. I casually began this story one afternoon, thinking I would read for a bit, and found myself having difficulty putting the book down hours later. The author did an amazing job bringing these people to life and painting their extremely chaotic life. Fanny had a difficult life prior to meeting Louis...she went from Indiana to Nevada with a horrible husband, bore children early in life, ended up in California and then some how, picked up and took her children to Europe to try to be an artist. The story is so fantastic that it's hard to believe these were real events. Fanny and Louis meet as she is trying to survive a tragic event in her life and their connection is so charged...it feels almost wrong to spy on their intimate encounters. Their lives are not easy...they struggle with her her husband, money, where to live and most importantly, Louis' health. Their relationship was an absolute roller coaster of ups and downs that eventually leads them to Samoa. Throughout their time together, Louis publishes the two works he is famously known for, though unfortunately, it seems true fame only came after he had passed away. I am not sure if Fanny was bipolar or simply suffered from the stress of her life events, but I immensely liked her depiction and truly admire her strength and spirit. This was a story dominated by a great love between husband and wife. This was truly an engaging and enjoyable read and now I need to get my hands on Horan's first book, Loving Frank. If I enjoy that half as much as I enjoyed this story, then I am in for a real treat.

I received a copy of this title from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review
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Melinda Ott, January 21, 2014 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
I read Horan's first novel, Loving Frank, shortly after it was published and was rather disappointed. However, what I perceived to be that book's greatest shortcoming was the abruptness of the story arc--and since it was based on a true store, Horan cannot be held accountable for that. I did enjoy her style in Loving Frank, so decided to give her next book a try.

I have sort of a general knowledge of Robert Louis Stevenson, but knew nothing of his personal life. Since I'm a sucker for the "grand love story" I thought this book would be right up my alley. Sadly, this book just didn't work for me. I really can't pinpoint one thing that didn't work for me, as I could with Loving Frank. Rather, I felt there were so many smaller things that just hampered the entire book.

For one thing, the scope of this book is incredibly large--about 30 years. I have nothing against books that cover a large time period, but I've found that the books that are successful with this are very targeted, which this one was not. We start with Fanny and Louis's love affair, and then go to Louis's health, and then to Fanny's jealousy and eventual breakdown and I just never felt there was a unifying theme in this book.

I think that if Horan had decided to tell just Fanny's side of the story, or just Louis's, this book would have been more successful. There were issues on both sides and trying to give equal time to both just kept me from getting to involved in the stories.

There were also times when I just felt this book dragged. I enjoy Horan's voice and she had a very readable style, but there were just some long periods where nothing really happened and it became tedious. The last 10 percent or so of this book was actually quite good, but not good enough to balance out the first 90 percent.

I am not writing off Nancy Horan yet, and I will give her next book a try, whenever it comes out. But this one just wasn't for me.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345516534
Author:
Horan, Nancy
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20140121
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.53 x 6.44 x 1.33 in 1.82 lb

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Under the Wide and Starry Sky New Hardcover
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Product details 496 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345516534 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This engaging tale of historical fiction indulges the reader with a telling portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson and his fiercely independent wife, Fanny. Fans of Stevenson will especially enjoy this glimpse into the couple's exciting yet turbulent life as they travel the globe.

"Review" by , “Horan’s spectacular second novel has been worth the wait. Brimming with the same artistic verve that drives her complicated protagonists, it follows the loving, tumultuous partnership of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his Indiana-born wife, Fanny Osbourne....Equally adventurous and colorful, Louis and Fanny could each command the story singlehandedly. Together, they are riveting and insightfully envisioned, including through moving depiction of how their relationship transforms over time....An exhilarating epic about a free-spirited couple who traveled the world yet found home only in one another.”
"Review" by , “This beautifully written novel, neatly balanced between its two protagonists, makes them come alive with grace, humor, and understanding. Horan’s empathy for both Louis and Fanny allows her to capture their life together with all the complexity and nuance of a real-life relationship.”
"Review" by , “Fans of Loving Frank will adore this authentic, richly detailed, and utterly captivating new novel from Nancy Horan. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a globe-spanning literary wonder — the perfect book for those who read fiction in search of the truth.”
"Review" by , “Fanny and Louis are wild-hearted seekers, and Nancy Horan traces their incredible journey fearlessly, plunging us through decades, far-flung continents, and chilling brushes with death. Ambitious and often breathtaking, this sweeping story spills over with spirited, uncompromising life.”
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