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Under the Wide and Starry Sky

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781444778441

Price: £9.99

ON SALE: 16th January 2014

Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Historical Fiction

‘FABULOUS’ The Times
‘FASCINATING’ New York Times


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 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, following their art and their dreams.


Her research is rock-solid but never allowed to get in the way of a fabulous (true) story.
The Times
A lyrical novel of Robert Louis Stevenson's troubled marriage. Fascinating...Nancy Horan's second historical novel reimagines another tempestuous love story.
New York Times
Unlike the history books, Horan pays as much attention to Fanny as Louis, and fierce independent soul that she is ... she's more than capable of holding her own. Theirs is the sort of consuming, complicated relationship that may well be exhausting to live through, but on the page it thrills.
Daily Mail
Operatic, global in its settings and dead-on in its portrayal of pre-feminism-era women and their limited opportunities... Infused with color, passion and intellectual spark... Horan's delightful reimagining ... has created a worthy tribute to Stevenson and the woman who stood by him.
Washington Post
A great, broad sweep of a narrative
Viv Groskop, Red Magazine
Warmhearted... Horan drapes this skeleton of facts with a richly imagined musculature of love, laughter, pain and sacrifice.
USA Today
Fact and fiction blend beautifully in Under the Wide and Starry Sky, which explores the tempestuous love story between Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife.
Good Housekeeping
Few writers are as masterful as she is at blending carefully researched history with the novelist's art... Once again, I was enthralled. Horan's prose is gorgeous... I kept re-reading passages just to savor the exquisite wordplay. Even the smallest characters, including the nonhuman ones, rate full range of personality
Dallas Morning News
One for any literature lover, Nancy Horan's Under the Wide and Starry Sky imagines the story of how author Robert Louis Stevenson met his tempestuous wife, Fanny... Their story is interspersed with extracts from Stevenson's own work, which are cleverly fit around his life events, giving the book a compelling biographical edge, which yet does not distract from the tale itself. A thoughtful read, told in very beautiful prose.
Image magazine
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
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
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
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.
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, author of LOVE AND 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