The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky


I would have to say that sadly I was disappointed in Under the Wide and Starry Sky (B) by Nancy Horan. Her first book, Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright was exceptional and I hoped that this book about Robert Louis Stevenson would be the same.

Fanny Osbourne was not immediately attracted to Robert, a Scotsman eleven years her junior. He fought hard to win her love and affection. She was a feisty American woman who had two children from a previous marriage. A divorced woman was not a common thing in 1875. Her strong and determined character was exactly what Robert needed in a wife, as he was a long-suffering man with tuberculosis.

I gravitate toward stories that are fictional biographies. It was partly what drew me to this novel. There is always so much to learn about historic personalities and Robert Louis Stevenson was someone I knew very little about. The novel certainly provided me with an insight into his character and life; however, it was an extremely tedious read.

There is a part in the story where Fanny is discouraging Robert from writing about his vast travels in textbook form. She encouraged him to write it in a fictional manner so that it would hold the interest of the reader. Nancy Horan could have used Fanny’s advice. Though not a textbook, Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a very heavy novel. Honestly the reason I finished the book is due to the fact that I read it while on a fairly long plane ride therefore not one I’d recommend.


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