Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Book - 2013
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"In her 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.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"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2013
Edition: First Edition
ISBN: 9780345516534
0345516532
Branch Call Number: FIC Hora
Characteristics: 466 pages ; 25 cm

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martha_w Dec 02, 2014

This is a beautifully-written fictionalized account of the marriage of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny. Knowing nothing about their lives prior to reading this, I found the entire thing helpfully thorough, although by the end of the novel the reader might wish the author had be... Read More »


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njon38
Jul 27, 2018

I was drawn to read this because I really thought her first novel "Loving Frank" was well written. This book , about Robert Louis Stevenson and his American divorcee wife, Fanny Van De Grift Osbourne and their adventures traveling the world, needed about 100 pages edited it out. It lacked clear focus. While I enjoyed the alternating chapters from Fanny's point of view then from Stevenson's point of view, I never really felt like either character was fully rounded. I was struck by the enormous sacrifice Fanny made for Stevenson including spending two years on the high seas while sea sick every day. I was equally struck that Stevenson seemed oblivious to that sacrifice. I appreciate Horan's attempt to shine a light on the lives of the women connected to famous men and I loved the Fanny that decamped from her philandering husband and move to Europe with her children to study art. I just couldn't understand the Fanny who gave up herself in devotion to Stevenson.

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becky1775
Oct 21, 2017

Unfortunately, I did not care for this book at all. I was excited to read it as 'Loving Frank' is one of my favorite books. I found this book dull and slow paced. I just couldn't get into this one!

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Liber_vermis
May 31, 2016

A page-turner biographical novel of a pair of complex characters - physically, emotionally, and creatively - who lived in many interesting locations during their two decades together. Also an interesting study of a variety of cultures at a tipping point in history. The reader encounters little gems of wording by the author that add enjoyment.

cmlibrary_canderson Jan 12, 2016

I enjoyed this. The middle was slow reading, but at the end, I felt I had learned a lot about Robert Louis Stevenson and - even more so - the challenge of being a creative woman during a time when women were mostly kept in the background. The final years in Samoa were fascinating.

r
rdw39
Feb 08, 2015

I looked forward to reading this book, as I had read the author's "Loving Frank". I learned a lot about Robert Louis Stevenson, but I felt that the author rambled on too long in the last part of the book about their time in the South Pacific. She could have eliminated nearly 100 pages by consolidating some of that material. All in all, I did enjoy the story.

martha_w Dec 02, 2014

This is a beautifully-written fictionalized account of the marriage of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny. Knowing nothing about their lives prior to reading this, I found the entire thing helpfully thorough, although by the end of the novel the reader might wish the author had been a bit narrower in her focus. However, both Stevensons are written as highly memorable, delightfully flawed characters, and the writing is lovely. These two people led an odd and passionate life together, and it's one that is certainly worthy of a novel.

d
Deacon01
Aug 02, 2014

lyrical and entertaining

dairyqueen May 09, 2014

Love affair of Robert Louis Stevenson (Author) and older divorcee woman Fanny Van DeGriff. Really enjoyed reading about this time period and the nomadic life they lived.

ehbooklover Feb 20, 2014

I chose to read this based on my love of Horan’s first book, “Loving Frank” despite the fact that I knew next to nothing about Robert Louis Stevenson. I enjoyed it a great deal more than I expected to. An interesting read that examines the many highs and lows of Stevenson’s relationship with his American wife, as well as his struggle to achieve literary success. I may just have to pick up a copy of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” or “Treasure Island” in the future.

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Liber_vermis
Jun 01, 2016

R.L.S.: "Obviously, I am not afraid to write about cruelty or violence. But for a writer to feed the reader great dank heaps of ugliness in the name of realism is dispiriting. ... Writers should find out where joy resides and give it a voice. Every bright word or picture is a piece of pleasure set afloat. The reader catches it, and he goes on his way rejoicing. It's the business of art of send him that way as often as possible. I have to believe that every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in this world. If I cannot believe that, then why should I go on? Why should anyone go on?"

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normalima
Aug 09, 2015

p.303
What kind of friend would not give another friend the truth?

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normalima
Aug 09, 2015

p.303
It had been a joke among them that Henley had the tact of a pachyderm. “I reserve the right to insult my friends,” Henley used to say when they confronted him.

n
normalima
Aug 09, 2015

p.313
“She came by the hotel a week ago. She is almost stone deaf and poor as a church mouse. He left her with nothing when he disappeared.”

n
normalima
Aug 09, 2015

Postscript
Tribute Robert Louis Stevenson wrote to his wife:
Teacher, tender, comrade, wife,
A fellow-farer true through life,
Heart-whole and soul free
The august father gave to me.

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