From Nancy Horan, New York Times bestselling author of Loving Frank, comes her much-anticipated second novel, which tells the improbable love story of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny.
At the age of thirty-five, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne has left her philandering husband in San Francisco to set sail for Belgium—with her three children and nanny in tow—to study art. It is a chance for this adventurous woman to start over, to make a better life for all of them, and to pursue her own desires. Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her children repair to a quiet artists’ colony in France where she can recuperate. Emerging from a deep sorrow, she meets a lively Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who falls instantly in love with the earthy, independent, and opinionated “belle Americaine.”
Fanny does not immediately take to the slender young lawyer who longs to devote his life to writing—and who would eventually pen 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 the decades and the globe. The shared life of these two strong-willed individuals unfolds into an adventure as impassioned and unpredictable as any of Stevenson’s own unforgettable tales.
Advance praise for Under the Wide and Starry Sky
“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, author of The Paris Wife
“It’s one thing to bring the past to life. It’s quite another to bring it back rich in all its glorious complications. 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, author of The Postmistress
“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
“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
“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.”—Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road
From the Hardcover edition.
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January 21, 2014
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