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Under the Wide and Starry Sky

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  6,825 ratings  ·  1,446 reviews
The passionate and turbulent story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny.

At the age of thirty-five, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne leaves her philandering husband in San Francisco and sets sail for Belgium to study art, with her three children and a nanny in tow. Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her brood repair

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Hardcover, 474 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Ballantine Books (first published 2013)
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The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. RoseWritten in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana GabaldonA Burnable Book by Bruce HolsingerA King's Ransom by Sharon Kay PenmanThe Queen's Exiles by Barbara Kyle
Historical Fiction 2014
26th out of 358 books — 2,091 voters
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk KiddThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrOne Plus One by Jojo MoyesUnder the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
Book Group Worthy Titles for 2014
5th out of 290 books — 1,056 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kim Overstreet
The historical fiction sub-genre featuring characters who actually lived has become a favorite of mine (e.g. The Paris Wife, The Aviator's Wife, Loving Frank, Z, etc...) This fictionalized account of the relationship of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his spunky, older American wife Fanny is my favorite so far. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, this novel met all of my criteria for good historical fiction:

1) Atmospheric - Time, place, and emotion are wonderfully recreat
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Gail Strickland
You know those books you just can't put down? The ones you are so into that everything else just goes by the waste side? This isn't one of them.
Robert
What I’ve learned is having faith is a truly rare gift, and that even if I’m filled with that much faith, or confidence, that I still have my doubts, those moments where it feels like it will all go to hell, but it won’t really matter because no one is paying attention anyway, and I can make whatever mistakes I need to make, and that ends up being another great gift: the opportunity to fail miserably without the whole world watching. Just when it seems like I’m at my lowest point, and there’s no ...more
Erin
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I began Nancy Horan's Under The Wide Starry Sky with high hopes, but ultimately liked the idea that behind the piece more than the reality. Though I found the narrative offered interesting perspective on Stevenson's personal life, the structure of the novel left much to be desired. Be warned, possible spoilers ahead.

For one thing, I found the pacing of the novel particularly troublesome. I lost interest in the first few cha
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Kate Forsyth
As soon as I heard about this book, I grabbed hold of it and read it. There were two reasons for this. One: I really enjoyed Nancy Horan’s earlier book ‘Loving Frank’, about the passionate love affair between Mamah Borthwick Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright. Two: the novel tells the story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wild, strong-willed American wife, Fanny. I have had a soft spot for Robert Louis Stevenson since I was given his poetry to read as a little girl. In particular, his poem ‘The Lan ...more
Dianne
Feb 24, 2014 Dianne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: arcs
I received an advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley. Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine books.

I have to confess that I am not fully on board with the recent trend of books narrated by the spouses of historical figures. It makes me cringe a little bit to think of these women, long gone and unable to defend themselves, having words put in their mouths and motives ascribed to them that may not be remotely accurate. And invariably, it seems that these stories take on a "chick lit" flavor
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David Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'Under the Wide and Starry Sky': Intriguing Novel/Biography of Robert Louis Stevenson and his Wife Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne Stevenson

REVIEWED BY DAVID M. KINCHEN


Stevenson had always wanted his 'Requiem' inscribed on his tomb:

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.
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Cynthia
Not as good as “Loving Frank”

I wanted to read “Under the Wide and Starry Sky” because I liked “Loving Frank” so much. While I liked “Under” I didn’t feel it was as compelling as “Frank”. It’s about the author Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing and his relationship with his wife Fanny. Because of Stevenson’s health (he suffered from tuberculosis) they traveled to many exotic locales in hopes his health would improve. Besides his native Scotland they lived in Paris and Switzerland and most notably i
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Susan Johnson
I'm so glad this book is over. I really didn't like Fanny Stevenson. She made me gnash my teeth and scream to myself, "Oh no. She can't be saying that or doing that." She was quite the narcissist and put herself above anyone else. She uprooted her children from Oakland to Belgium and then to Paris. She thought she was an artist but when her daughter proved to be a better artist, the lessons started. When her son falls desperately ill, she doesn't reach out to her husband for help until it's alm ...more
Jessica
Phew - just finished this. It feels like I've been reading this book for months. There was nothing distinctly bad about it, just nothing all that notably good about it, either. It just felt like it went on and on and on, and nothing notable ever really happened.
Except that's not true at all. The two main characters led pretty extraordinary lives, particularly for their era. They were respected, famous people in their lifetimes, who lived very unconventional lives. And yet... something in the wr
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Barb
This novel covers nearly thirty years in the lives of Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson and their family. I don't think I've read a single one of Stevenson's books but I found Nancy Horan's tribute to his life compelling. While the Stevenson's travel adventures were interesting what I enjoyed most was reading about the couple's relationship and Louis's relationship with his parents. Thomas Stevenson was not very supportive of his son's career choice, he wanted him to build lighthouses or study la ...more
Peggy


When I received my copy of Under the Wide and Starry Sky, I couldn't wait to see if Nancy Horan would be able to wow me as she did with Loving Frank.
Not only did she WOW but the book is now our club selection for August 2014. I was absolutely drawn into this story with a sense of almost participating in everything that happened in the ever changing story of Robert and Fanny (with the exception of seasickness thank goodness). It was everything it said it would be from love story, to family relati
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Christine
"And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world..."

That's the concluding line for the blurb about Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. So provocative and alluring, right?

It's a somewhat-fictional take on the romance between Fanny Osbourne and the prolific writer, Robert Louis Stevenson. Admittedly, despite being a Literature major, I didn't know much about RLS, particularly something as appealing as a romance that dashed through the world. It all sou
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Candace
The love story between Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne is one of those it would be hard to make up. They met in the French countryside when Fanny was recovering from the death of her son and Louis was visiting his cousin. She was American, older than him, and married to a philanderer in San Francisco. She also had two young children. He was already ill with tuberculosis but nonetheless striving to become a writer, not the doctor his family expected.

Their courtship was certainly not ea
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Laura
This book was interesting in the beginning but was way too long to hold my interests for the duration of the novel. Can't recommend this book. As I told someone else look on Wikipedia for a few facts about the lives of the husband and wife but then take the time to read one of his works. I think that would be time well spent.
Marnie
The first book I remember owning as a child was A Child's Garden of Verses- given to me by my kindergarten teacher. It was a prized possession and one of the few mementos I have from childhood. It is surprising that I never went on to read any more of his books but that is going to change. Nancy Horan is making a living off of the phrase " behind every great man stands a woman." The author of Loving Frank tells us the story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his great love Fanny Osbourne. Fans of The ...more
JoAnne Pulcino
UNDER THE WIDE AND STARRY SKY

Nancy Horan

UNDER THE WIDE AND STARRY SKIES is the fascinating life and love story of Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson and his unconventional wife Fanny. Fanny runs away from America with her three children to escape her philandering husband. She and her three children go to Belgium where Fanny and her daughter plan to study art.

After a personal tragedy Fanny needs the respite of a quiet artists’ colony In France. While recovering the lively Robert Louis Steven
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Barbara
Under the Wide and Starry Sky is an historical novel about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny. It’s divided into three Parts. I found Part One to be a bit cumbersome. It’s a book club read, so I soldiered on (which I wouldn’t have done otherwise). Part two was far more interesting, as was part three. However, I felt it was written “passively” so as a reader, I wasn’t really engaged or part of the book.

On the plus side, I did learn about Stevenson’s life. Prior to this novel, I knew he wa
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Cheryl
I'm no fit judge of historical fiction or biography, but I did enjoy this story and it felt both true and real. I felt I learned a lot about the times & places, and about human nature. All the people were richly drawn complex characters, both brave & base, compassionate & conflicted, and, most of all, alive.
Lilisa
A window into the relationship and marriage of Fanny van de Grift Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson, this historical fiction traces this unconventional partnership – Fanny ten years older than Louis (the name he was known as in real life) at times seemed more his mother than wife and partner. A scrappy woman, her marriage has already disintegrated as a result of her husband’s regular philandering, when she meets young Louis, a lawyer and an aspiring writer in Grez-sur-Loing, France. Herself an ...more
Teresa
UNDER THE WIDE AND STARRY SKY is a historical fiction novel telling a new generation the story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny van de Grift Osbourne. From beginning to end, the story removes the reader to another time and place allowing him to see how things could have been in a time when divorce is a sin, while rank and privilege has both advantages and disadvantages. If you enjoy the works of Sharon Kay Penman or Wilbur Smith, you won't be disappointed with this story. Much like t ...more
Lexxie
*I received a free ARC of Under the Wide and Starry Sky from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

Very interesting and detailed story about Louis and Fanny, how they travel around Europe, to America, and later to the South Seas and Australia to help Louis stay in good health.

This and all my other reviews are originally posted on my blog (un)Conventional Bookviews
Michelle Hankes
Mar 04, 2014 Michelle Hankes rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults, teens, seniors
Robert Louis Stevenson has made a dramatic impact on our global history - in literature, as well as poetry, essays, and so many other versions of the written word. To hear an historical fictional account of his life, his love and his work was truly inspiring.

The story of Robert Louis Stevenson - Louis - and Fannie Osbourne's lives, as they collided and then collaborated, is a monumental tale about two people, their predispositions (a little pride, a little prejudice), and how love truly can be
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Maryellen
It seems only fitting that this close to Valentine's Day I should read and revel in this love story. And truly, that's what this book is; it is the love story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his beloved wife, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne Stevenson.

Author Nancy Horan pieces together bits of history taken from the many letters and publications of Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson and combines them with her own imaginings to give to us this love story. And more than a love story it is. UNDER THE WIDE AND STARRY
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Laura

I requested this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



This is a historical fiction novel that describes the life of Fanny Stevenson and the famous Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.


Fanny van de Grift Osbourne and her three children have travelled to Belgium in order to escape from a frustrated marriage and to try to have some art lessons in Belgium.



However Fanny's plans don’t work as planned and she is forced to move to a quiet artists' colony in France in order to recuperat

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Matt Hutka
I received this novel early through the goodreads "first-reads" promotion.

I had never really known anything about RLS actual life, so I was intrigued by the catchy line "And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world."

Everyone has at least some acquaintance with RLS books, but diving in and finding out an envisioned story of his life and how the stories came about had an interesting draw.

One thing to point out is that like the line I quoted, the book spans an
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Karen
Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a complex love story between author Robert Louis Stevenson and his forward-thinking American wife Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. A second novel by the author of Loving Frank, this story takes its title from a famous Stevenson quote. It seamlessly melds fact with fiction, and post-read, I am eager to research more about their lives so I can better understand the real from the fictitious.

Fanny sets off on a journey from San Francisco to France with her young childre
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Carol Mann
Author Nancy Horan, who also wrote Loving Frank, has captured the complicated relationship between Fanny Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson. At their first meeting, Fanny's concern about Stevenson being considerably younger and his utter infatuation with her comes across the page beautifully. The relationship endures despite Stevenson's poor health, their many moves to find healthy conditions, his growth as a writer, family complications, and their artistic competition. I felt I was "in the hea ...more
Beryl
Really a 3 1/2 star book for me. I wanted to love it. "Loving Frank" was a masterpiece, one of my all-time favorites, and the idea of something similar featuring Robert Louis Stevenson excited me, but it just did not have the can't-put-it-down feel of "Frank", and the pacing seemed uneven. I got bogged down in the details of life and politics in the tropics and found myself skipping ahead. I appreciate the research that went into it,and the wonderful writing, and I did get a feel for the charact ...more
Patricia
Horan (author of Loving Frank) again takes historical events in the life of a strong woman and weaves them into a compelling fictional portrait. I didn't know anything about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny but now I want to read a biography or two.
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Nancy Horan is a writer and a journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband and two sons. Loving Frank is her first novel.
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Loving Frank

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