Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

3.58 (15,251 ratings by Goodreads)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

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 asTreasure 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.

Praise for Under the Wide and Starry Sky

“A richly imagined [novel] of love, laughter, pain and sacrifice . . . [Fanny Osbourne] kidnapped Robert Louis Stevenson’s heart.”—USA Today

“Powerful . . . flawless . . . a perfect example of what a man and a woman will do for love, and what they can accomplish when it’s meant to be.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Spectacular . . . an exhilarating epic about a free-spirited couple who traveled the world yet found home only in one another.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Horan’s prose is gorgeous enough to keep a reader transfixed, even if the story itself weren’t so compelling. I kept re-reading passages just to savor the exquisite wordplay. . . . Few writers are as masterful as she is at blending carefully researched history with the novelist’s art.”—The Dallas Morning News

“A classic artistic bildungsroman and a retort to the genre, a novel that shows how love and marriage can simultaneously offer inspiration and encumbrance.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Nancy Horan has done it again, capturing the entwined lives of Fanny Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson so uncannily, it reads like truth.”—Sarah Blake, author ofThe Postmistress

“Horan has a distinct knack for evoking the rich, complicated lives of long-gone artists and the women who inspired them.”—Entertainment Weekly

“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
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Product details

  • Hardback | 474 pages
  • 165 x 231 x 41mm | 839g
  • United States
  • English
  • 0345516532
  • 9780345516534
  • 810,271

Review quote

"Fascinating . . . a novel that shows how love and marriage can simultaneously offer inspiration and encumbrance."--"The New York Times Book Review"
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"A lot of fun . . . Horan drapes this skeleton of facts with a richly imagined musculature of love, laughter, pain and sacrifice. Unlike "Loving Frank, "which focused on Mamah Cheney, "Under the Wide and Starry Sky" is a dual portrait, with Louis and Fanny sharing the limelight in the best spirit of teamwork--a romantic partnership."--"USA Today"
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"Horan's depiction of their life together is flawless. We are right there with the couple as they transform over the years."--"Fort Worth Star-Telegram"
"Horan's prose is gorgeous. . . . Few writers are as masterful as she is at blending carefully researched history with the novelist's art."--"The Dallas Morning News"
"A delight from start to finish . . . as stirring as any of R. L. Stevenson's famous tales."--"Hudson Valley News"
"A dazzling love story that unspools across years and continents. Horan deftly brings to life a woman shamefully overlooked by history, and celebrates her contributions to the man whom history remembered."--"BookPage"
"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"
"It's one thing to bring the past to life. It's quite another to bring it back rich in all its glorious complications. Nancy Horan has done it again, capturing the entwined lives of Fanny Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson so uncannily, it reads like truth--and better. I loved every minute I had it in my hands."--Sarah Blake, author "of The Postmistress"
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"Maybe it goes without saying that it's a hard thing to chase a book as successful ask
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About Nancy Horan

Nancy Horan's first novel, "Loving Frank, " chronicles a little-known chapter in the life of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was translated into sixteen languages, remained on the "New York Times" bestseller list for more than a year, and in 2009 was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction, presented by the Society of American Historians. "Under the Wide and Starry Sky" explores the shared journey of Robert Louis Stevenson and his spirited American wife, Fanny, in a sweeping adventure that unfolds over eighteen years and three continents. Nancy Horan has two sons, and lives with her husband on an island in Puget Sound.
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Rating details

15,251 ratings
3.58 out of 5 stars
5 18% (2,687)
4 38% (5,730)
3 33% (4,963)
2 10% (1,502)
1 2% (369)

Our customer reviews

The words “Under the wide and starry sky” are part of the inscription on the tomb of Robert Louis Stevenson. This book tells the story of the love of Stevenson's life and the tumultuous path of his relationship with Frances (Fanny) Matilda Van de Grift Osbourne Stevenson. The book charts the course of their relationship from when they meet until Stevenson's death in 1894. Although not as compelling as Nancy Horan's first book, this book is still a beautifully told story. Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/03/under-wide-and-starry-sky.htmlshow more
by Nada A.
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