Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Author(s): Nancy Horan

Fiction | No Category | November 2020

At the age of thirty-five, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne has left her philandering husband in San Francisco to set sail for Belgium to study art, with her three children and nanny in tow. Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her brood repair to a quiet artists' colony in France where she can recuperate. There she meets Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who is instantly smitten with the earthy, independent, and opinionated belle Americaine. A woman ahead of her time, Fanny does not immediately take to the young lawyer who longs to devote his life to literature rather than the law - and who would eventually write 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 decades as they travel the world for the sake of his health following their art and dreams eventually settling in Samoa where Robert Louis Stevenson is buried, with these words on his grave: 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)


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From Nancy Horan, the New York Times bestselling author of Loving Frank, comes the passionate and turbulent story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny.

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, bestselling author of THE PARIS WIFE Horan's second novel (following Loving Frank) again mines the true story of a famous man and equally remarkable woman of history to impressive effect. This time, instead of Mameh Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright, the central couple is Fanny Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson ... 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 Horan's spectacular second novel (following book-club favorite Loving Frank) 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 ... An exhilarating epic about a free-spirited couple who traveled the world yet found home only in one another. Booklist - starred 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 Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet As she did so magically in Loving Frank, Nancy Horan brings to life a distant time and faraway places populated by characters at once familiar and delightfully new. By widening her lens to shine a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores - the wives of famous men - Horan gives us a marvellous gift: an entirely new appreciation of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne. Ayelet Waldman, bestselling author of Red Hook Road, Bad Mother and Love & Treasure What an extraordinary story! Throughout the novel, I felt I was right there with Fanny and Louis, sharing their hopes and hardships as they traveled the world. The portrayal of their lives on Samoa was especially gripping. Nancy Horan has transformed everything I thought I knew about Robert Louis Stevenson, and in Fanny - his passionate, independent American wife-she has created a woman whose struggles continue to haunt me. Lauren Belfer, author of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light Maybe it goes without saying that it's a hard thing to chase a book as successful as Loving Frank with a second novel. For one thing, you worry it was an accident the first time around. The good news is that it wasn't (an accident) - and Nancy Horan is back with another beautifully crafted story, and no signs of a sophomore slump. Pete Dexter, author of Paris Trout, winner of the National Book Award It's one thing to bring the past to life. It's quite another to bring it back rich in all its glorious complications. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is that rare good thing, a novel that follows the voyage of a passionate and complicated marriage across the years, a marriage between two unforgettable questing spirits, nonetheless bound by the skeins of their time. 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, New York Times bestselling author of The Postmistress

Nancy Horan is the author of Loving Frank. She lives and writes on an island near Seattle. Her first novel, Loving Frank, the story of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, was a New York Times bestseller and a Richard & Judy Book Club pick.

General Fields

  • : 9781444778410
  • : Hodder & Stoughton
  • : Two Roads
  • : August 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Nancy Horan
  • : Hardback
  • : 496