Vicky R. (Cumming, GA)
I wanted a little more from this book, this author. I was excitedly looking forward to reading about the life of RLS, but ended up dragging myself through the last quarter of this book. Although a lot of the descriptions of the exotic places that the author took us were pure, visual and lovely, I found I was frequently bored throughout the book and found myself "trying" to connect with the characters. This will not keep me from reading future books from Ms. Horan, an obviously talented writer.
Brenda D. (Lincoln, CA)
Under the Wide and Starry Sky
Another success for author, Nancy Horan, in creating this wonderful "historical fictional" account of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny. She fully fleshed out the characters -- their strengths and weaknesses -- and led us on a journey from Europe to California, and ultimately Samoa in an attempt to find a climate that would be conducive to Stevenson's health issues. Taking into account the time frame of the late 1800's, they had an amazing life. Fanny was complex, creative, strong-willed and courageous and felt the frustrations of being a woman in the time period. Stevenson, for all his medical problems, was remarkably cheerful, compassionate, and well-loved by most everyone he came in contact with. A thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and educational read.
Jan C. (San Antonio, TX)
Under the wide and starry sky
Having read Nancy Horan's Loving Frank, I expected to enjoy this book as much. I did not. I did not feel like I knew the characters in book. Their character development was a thin veneer. Perhaps this was because so much was written about where they were but I did not feel tied to events of the world with these characters. I had trouble placing them in the world around them. There was too little about the actual work of RLS and too much repeated about his illness. I finished the book feeling I knew little about RLS works' impact on the society of the day. I felt the author was limited to the diaries of Fanny.
I didn't feel like I had learned anything of importance when I finished the book.
Sarah W. (Lufkin, TX)
Under the Wide and Starry Sky
When one reads UNDER THE WIDE AND STARRY SKY, one realizes that Nancy Horan has a gift of making the reader feel as though he is a part of the story, living with the characters as one of the family. In this book she draws the reader in as she tells the fictionalized story of Fanny van de Grift Osbourne who leaves her philandering husband and takes her children to Europe where she meets her future husband, the soon to be famous Robert Louis Stevenson, a sickly, bachelor ten years her junior, and the life they will eventually share together. After they married the two become like nomads because Louis's illness "pushed them around places they didn't want to go and pulled them out of places they loved."
The author draws you into the lives of two very dominant people, artists in their own way, who love fiercely, who circle the globe looking for and eventually finding a home where Louis can live without the illness which he has had from birth. She tells of the ups and downs of their lives before and after they eventually settle in Samoa where they live until Louis dies.
Horan has done extensive research and travel using parts of letters and biographies, For her story of the lives of Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson.
I would recommend this book to libraries and book clubs because it is one which gives unusual insight into the lives of two famous people.
Ann B. (Bethlehem, PA)
A Love Story
I was so excited to read Nancy Horan's new book after her dynamic first book, Loving Frank. Although the subject, the tumultuous relationship of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne, seemed a similar topic. While Under the Wide and Starry Sky is not nearly as fast paced, Horan's gifted writing style permeates the well researched affair. This story will delight those who enjoy the late 19th century European and American literary and social scene. Horan's attention to details both in dialogue and narration add to the story; however, at times it slows the pace especially in the beginning. I personally was having trouble staying with the time and setting changes. Most interesting were how much influence Fanny had on the successful writings of the lifelong illness plagued Stevenson. Her compassion during bouts of sickness, encouragement in his writing, and willingness to move all over the world to find a place where he would thrive were nothing short of an amazing love story.
Judy B. (Santa Fe, NM)
I loved Nancy Horan's first book, "Loving Frank!" And this new one is almost better! It is the story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny Osbourne. She is a divorcee and 12 years older than Louis, an unusual mix for the late 1800s! She is a strong personality and it comes through in this story, but she is a person so full of love and both Louis and she are very "needy" of love. Louis has been ill off and on most of his life, illnesses that have taken him near death many times! Fanny helps him through these times. He writes during all of this. It is just a magical story and one that I would highly recommend to one and all!
Laura M. (Huntsville, TX)
Another winner from a great author!
This fictional account of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny is moving, beautifully written and almost poetic. Ms. Horan's story captures you right from the start. I was looking forward to this book eagerly, and started it the minute it arrived on my doorstep. The author takes her time describing scenes and people, yet the story never drags. It is like a nice warm drink by the fire, to be savored and not gulped. I am sure this is another best seller, perfect for book clubs, definitely more of a woman's book than a man's, probably not as appreciated by the young adult audience as by someone who has lived, and suffered, and loved.