Title: Under the Wide and Starry Sky
Author: Nancy Horan
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Random House)
Release Date: January 21, 2014
Acquired Via: TLC Book Tours
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.
Nothing makes me swoon more than a historical romance novel, and the historical fiction of Nancy Horan's Under the Wide and Starry Sky had no problems making my heart go pitter-patter. (I don't really consider it historical romance, but don't ask me why.) Fanny van de Grift Osbourne was a character whom I immediately adored because of the determination that she showed early in the novel. Once her relationship with Robert Louis Stevenson began in the novel, I was hopelessly captivated by their story.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a long book that spans more than twenty years, but I forget the length and span of the book most of the time. There were some parts in the middle that dragged a bit, but the pacing mostly worked for me. I really enjoy books that are epic in scale and spend a lot of time with the laying of the foundation. Under the Wide and Starry Sky takes the reader through Fanny's past in the West, then on to Europe with her children, and the tropics with Louis. We are also shown the ups and downs of nontraditional relationship between the two. And let me tell you, the downs were heartbreaking.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a beautifully-written love story that readers of both historical fiction and romance will enjoy, as well as those who like their novels based on real people and/or events. I will definitely be going back to read Horan's previous work, Loving Frank, and be on the lookout for any of her future work.
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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.
To learn more about Nancy and her work, visit her website, NancyHoran.com.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.