Susan's Reviews > Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of Destiny

Fanny Stevenson by Alexandra Lapierre
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's review
May 11, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: theme-famous-person, group-my-own-reading, genre-historical, genre-travel, theme-wilderness, relationships-family-matters, theme-women-s-issues, theme-physical-mental-problems, genre-biographies-memoirs
Recommended to Susan by: Chrissie
Read from April 03 to May 09, 2012

Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne Stevenson was a remarkable woman who seemed to live several different lives in one lifespan. She traveled back and forth between the civilized world and the barbarous regions at the edge of society, not with aplomb, but with gritty determination. (view spoiler) One of her acquaintances said that you either loved her or hated her. I loved to read about her and definitely admire her pluck, but am not quite sure what I would have thought of Fanny Stevenson had our paths crossed in real life.

As to how the book was written, I have my problems with Ms. LaPierre. Is this a biography or a novelization? Parts of the book are dramatized and if this were a novel, and scenes are acted out, and told from various viewpoints of the characters involved. These are not “characters,” however, but real people. I would rather have read a straight biography of this fascinating woman than have scenes enacted. We get an almost moment-by-moment description of what went on in Fanny’s mind and life while she decided whether to stay with her husband or leave him for RLS, but other phases or her life are skimmed over. She meets RLS while he is baring earning a living as a writer, and once she marries him he is a famous author. When exactly did this happen? We see her mental illness from her daughter’s prospective, who thinks to herself, “Oh, I should have mentioned to the doctor that mother thought she was pregnant with ten babies, and made the house she was building especially large to accommodate them all.” What?!?!?! Not enough facts for a biography; not enough insight for a novel.

I have given it four stars mainly because I found Fanny so interesting.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Chrissie Susan, at the back of my book, in the notes and bibliography section, the author specifies her source material. I saw this book clearly as a biography, not as a novel.

Susan I know; I did too to a degree. But, I didn't like the dramatizations of conversations and what was going on in peoples' minds. I see no need for that. Just give me the facts, ma'am.

Chrissie Definitely it was her life that was what made the book worth four stars, not the author's writing skills.

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