Fiction starry sky

Published on February 10th, 2014


Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

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Blurb: 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. (Two Roads, January 2014)

Susann Cokal, The New York Times

“The novel’s most fascinating chapters show the couple’s interactions as Louis composes some of the 19th century’s best-known works, with Fanny providing commentary. Not just a nursemaid, she is crucial to his artistic formation and growth. Louis works frenziedly through bouts of sickness to produce prodigious stacks of pages, occasionally burning them if Fanny, his “critic on the hearth,” finds them wanting. She persuades him to make Dr. Jekyll both good and bad, rather than pure evil, as Louis had first written.”

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Caroll Memmott, The Washington Post

“A woman’s profile graces the novel’s cover, but Stevenson, not Fanny, is the North Star of this story, and his struggles, more than Fanny’s, will win readers’ hearts … It’s a time in their lives that’s deliciously reminiscent of the adventure novels Stevenson wrote, and Horan’s delightful reimagining is just as entertaining.”

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Hephizbah Anderson, The Daily Mail

“Theirs is the sort of consuming, complicated relationship that may well be exhausting to live through, but on the page it thrills. 

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Kate Saunders, The Times

“Horan’s bestselling first novel, Loving Frank, does the same sort of thing with Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney; great literary love affairs are clearly her passion. Her research is rock-solid but never allowed to get in the way of a fabulous (true) story.”

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