Monday, January 25, 2016

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan | Book Review

Under the Wide and Starry Sky
(Unfortunately, I feel that this cover is somewhat misleading.)

Under the Wide and Starry Sky is the story of Fanny de van Grift Osbourne.  In the late 1800s, she leaves her husband in America and moves to Paris with her three children.  Just that sentence alone tells you what an independent-spirited woman she was!  In that era, a woman didn't just leave her husband.  Not only does she leave her husband behind in America, but while in France she meets and falls for a younger man, a Scottish lawyer-cum-author named Robert Louis Stevenson.  (Somehow I missed that detail when I read the synopsis.  Made for a pleasant surprise around about chapter 10.)

While Fanny is featured prominently on the cover, and the muted blues make me think a bit of romance, this book is much more adventure than anything else.  Oh, and biography.  Yes, it's fiction, but Nancy Horan does a ton of research to stick as close as possible to the actual events of Stevenson's life.  (This is explained in a historical afterword at the end of the book.)  I had no clue that Stevenson did so much traveling in his life!  He and Fanny nearly completely circle the globe!

While Under the Wide and Starry Sky did have a little bit of a slower start, it quickly picks up once Fanny meets Stevenson, and the adventures never end after that.  Seeing Robert Louis Stevenson through another's eyes (Fanny's) is quite intriguing.  It was also fascinating to read about such free spirits during a period of history when most people stuck much closer to home.  Even the back stories of the two involved unusual occupations and/or travel!  Fanny and her first husband had lived in the wild West at one point, and Stevenson's family were lighthouse builders.  They met at an artists' retreat resort.  Not only did they love life with a passion, they also exhibit a fierce love for each other over and over.

I definitely recommend Under the Wide and Starry Sky!

*I received an advanced copy of Under the Wide and Starry Sky from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.  Thank you!

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