Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Nancy Horan had great success with Loving Frank, a fictionalized account of Frank Lloyd Wright. Now she takes her skills and entertains us with Under the Wide and Starry Sky starring Robert Louis Stevenson.  This is a love story, a writer story, and a tale of fragile health.  Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, a tempestuous American, came to Europe to study art, escape a philandering husband, and find her own identity. She meets Robert Louis Stevenson –  a Scot, ten years younger, weak lungs, no money, and a gift for telling a tale. He’s a lawyer who hates the law and decides to devote himself to writing, despite his father’s misgivings.  Together the odd couple embark on a love affair and marriage that “spans 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 unforgettable tales.” (cover blurb) 

As a writer, it was fun to read about his slow success in magazines and finally books. In the late 1800s, writers depended on the mail for letters of success or rejection. He was often down to his last penny when something would pay off. His success with Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde cement him as a classic author. He also had a winner with A Child’s Garden of Verses.  He was close to death many times and seemed to find health on the high seas and finally in the South Seas islands. Fanny nursed him, fought for him, and also wrote and published. She recognized his genius and had to live with his peculiarities. Nancy Horan captures the personalities and we root for Fanny – her passion, her self-esteem, her pride, her American identity, and her love for RSL. This is a smooth enjoyable read as Robert Louis Stevenson and the woman behind him come alive on the page.


  1. I've heard great things about Loving Frank, and your wonderful review makes me also want to read this story. I had no idea that Robert Louis Stephenson started out as a lawyer, and was in such poor health.


  2. Oh wow this does sound like a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Another excellent review and TWO books to add to my 'Wish List'. Haven't heard about Loving Frank, so that's a must, and I've long been a fan of RLS writing. Didn't know about his being a lawyer, but did know about his health. I'm still reading on Monuments Men...not that I'm a slow reader, just lots of interruptions and a bit of needlework as you saw in my post today. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great week.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

  4. Sounds like a fun easy reading story. Great review. Thanks. Maria @ Delight Directed Living

  5. Reading about writers always makes me feel better!

  6. Hi Joanne. Sounds like a great read! Just another Old Broad Waxing Poetic stopping by to introduce myself and welcome you!