Advance reader reviews of Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

By Nancy Horan

Under the Wide and Starry Sky
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published in USA  Jan 2014,
    496 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

Page 3 of 4
There are currently 25 member reviews
for Under the Wide and Starry Sky
Order Reviews by:
  • Marcia F. (Batavia, IL)

    Under The Wide and Starry Sky
    Being Welsh, I loved "Loving Frank" Horans first novel which was so enjoyed by my book club. Therefore, I eagerly signed up to review "Under The Wide and Starry Sky". Horans' second novel did not disappoint. Her research of the time period was right on and the journey of the relationship between Fanny and Louis - their struggles, happiness, hardships - drew me right in. Her wonderfully written descriptions of all the places they traveled put me right there in that time period and made me feel as though I was there with them. This is a wonderful love story about a famous man and his Indiana wife and should be a perfect book for book clubs.
  • Barbara H. (Richmond, IN)

    A Second Book Success
    When as a reader you have enjoyed an author's first book, Loving Frank, it is so pleasing to find the author has written a second book as well-written and enjoyable as her first. Under the Wide and Starry Sky was a surprise, not because it was good, but because it was about Robert Louis Stevenson. I knew his books, but his life was a total surprise. So, first of all, thank you Nancy Horan for educating me. Secondly, both Fanny and Louis came to life as characters. I could feel her grief and guilt at the loss of her son; I could understand her willingness to give up so much to keep him alive and well. His needs were foremost for him and for her. He recognized her dislike of sea travel, but his health improved at sea and in Samoa where they finally stayed. He needed a place to write and solitude in which to write. He found it difficult to find these two together. The author used many quotations from journals and letters the two wrote since they were both prolific writers. RLS's interests were many and so were Fanny's. In Samoa both bordered on being obsessive; he, with politics; she, with creating a farm. It was an adventure. In it's own way, the story of the love and life of Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson was as exciting as some of his novels.
  • Sheila S. (Supply, NC)

    Another winner
    A Child's Garden of Verses, Treasure Island, and Kidnapped were favorites from my childhood, but I knew nothing about the author aside from his nationality. Now thanks to Nancy Horan's wonderful new book, that has been rectified. Robert Louis Stevenson is a fascinating topic for an historical novel. He is frail and sickly, yet can light up a room with the force of his personality. He finds the perfect partner in Fanny de Grift Osbourne, an independent and adventurous woman. Together they travel the world, largely in search of healthy climates for the invalid Stevenson. I enjoyed the book immensely and will recommend it to my book club. Loving Frank was one of our favorites, and I think this one will be too.
  • Shirley L. (Norco, LA)

    A Flesh and Blood Love Story
    I usually enjoy historical fiction about real people, and this book was especially well done. Other reviewers commented negatively about the length of the book, but I never was bored nor tempted to skip sections. This was a multi-dimensional telling of a life-long love story and I would not have wanted any part of it to be cut short. In addition to this very interesting tale of the Stevensons' life there were many ideas to ponder such as the meaning of home, the proper role for woman, the nature of the artist, colonization of native lands, and the ingredients of a successful marriage. Robert comes to see that his wife Fanny was indeed an artist and her greatest work was the way she lived her life. What a pleasure for the reader to be invited to share in learning about this life.
  • Phyllis R. (Rochester Hills, MI)

    Fanny and Louis Stevenson
    As a lighthouse enthusiast, I knew about the Stevenson Lighthouse Building Engineer Dynasty and that Robert Louis Stevenson had a sickly childhood and thus became a writer. This historical fiction focuses on Frances Van de Grift Osbourne Stevenson. Just as in the author's first novel, "Loving Frank", Nancy Horan has done extensive research using Fanny's diaries and journals to detail her nomadic life with RLS. Fanny was an opinionated, tempestuous America Hoosier who meets RLS in France. Their passionate love and his fragile health (tuberculosis, consumption, pneumonia, pulmonary hemorrhaging) led them to the South Seas and Samoa where they lived with their extended family and worked until his death (cerebral hemorrhage) in 1904. The title comes from a RLS poem and is his epitaph.
    "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."
  • Melissa P. (Greenville, NY)

    Under the Wide and Starry Sky
    I loved Horan's first book, Loving Frank, and was excited to read this one. Again, Horan's writing style is complex and interesting. She brings these people to life through her writing. I found the love story between Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny to be real and memorable. I enjoyed this read.
  • Cynthia D. (Germantown, TN)

    Too Much of a Good Thing?
    Most avid readers know Robert Louis Stevenson's vast array of publications-- and they're so diverse! Poetry to Pirates plus Jekyll & Hyde!
    Under the Wide & Starry Sky reveals Stevenson's highs and lows of creativity, issues with health, poverty, romance & marriage to a feisty American, Fanny. Although Horan provides a superb look at the lifestyle of writers, the vivid narration of disagreements with his friends became tiresome (in my opinion).
    Overall, I am DELIGHTED to have read this book and intend to discover Stevenson's work that I've missed.
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.