StarrySky

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UNDER THE WIDE & STARRY SKY

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.

PRAISE & REVIEWS

“Fascinating…a novel that shows how love and marriage can simultaneously offer inspiration and encumbrance.”
The New York Times Book Review

“A woman’s profile graces the novel’s cover, but Stevenson, not Fanny, is the North Star of this story, and his struggles, more than Fanny’s, will win readers’ heart…Still, Horan infuses both these portraits with color, passion and intellectual spark.”
The Washington Post

“Few writers are as masterful as she is at blending carefully researched history with the novelist’s art.
Once again, I was enthralled…Horan’s prose is gorgeous enough to keep a reader transfixed, even if the story itself weren’t so compelling. I kept re-reading passages just to savor the exquisite wordplay.”
Dallas Morning News

“Horan’s depiction of their life together is flawless.”
Star-Telegram, Ft. Worth

“Horan drapes the skeleton of facts with a richly imagined musculature of love, laughter, pain and sacrifice.”
USA Today

“Horan invests each page of this book with exquisite, sensual detail – fragrances, sounds, textures, tastes – that bring the Stevensons’ exotic forays to life.”
Bellingham Herald

“Horan’s spectacular second novel has been worth the wait. Brimming with the same artistic verve that drives her complicated protagonists, it follows the loving, tumultuous partnership of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his Indiana-born wife, Fanny Osbourne….Equally adventurous and colorful, Louis and Fanny could each command the story singlehandedly. Together, they are riveting and insightfully envisioned, including through moving depiction of how their relationship transforms over time….An exhilarating epic about a free-spirited couple who traveled the world yet found home only in one another.”
Booklist, starred review

“Horan’s second novel again mines the true story of a famous man and equally remarkable, woman of history to impressive effect….This beautifully written novel, neatly balanced between its two protagonists, makes them come alive with grace, humor, and understanding. Horan’s empathy for both Louis and Fanny allows her to capture their life together with all the complexity and nuance of a real-life relationship.”
Publishers Weekly

“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

“Fans of Loving Frank will adore this authentic, richly detailed and utterly captivating new novel from Nancy Horan. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is a globe-spanning literary wonder – the perfect book for those who read fiction in search of the truth.”
—Jamie Ford, author of Songs of Willow Frost

“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

“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. By widening her lens to shine a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores, Horan gives us a  marvellous gift: an entirely new appreciation of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne.”
–Ayelet Waldman, author of  Love and Treasure

“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