Title: Under The Wide and Starry Sky
Genre: Historical Fiction
Author: Nancy Horan
Publisher: Random House, Ballantine Books, January 21, 2014
Source: Free for review from the Amazon Vine Program
Sexy Rating: not explicit
Description from Amazon.com:
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.
Nothing for Fanny Osbourne is simple and easy. Life is complicated and she never shies away from the complications or the adventure. For the slight person she was physically she had a powerhouse of internal strength. Robert Louis Stephenson knew a good thing when he found her. He had a tenacity of spirit in spite of being physically unwell a good deal of the time. He followed Fanny half way round the world to make her his.
This is a wonderful book, filled with emotional moments on nearly every page. Ms. Moran is stellar at bringing out the happiness that was intrinsic to both Fanny and R.L.S. and then wrenching our hearts with the tragedies and hardships they endured. But above all, the love of these two souls shines through.
This is a long book, 472 pages. Never once did I want it to end or be shortened. In fact I wanted more, more of Fanny in her final years, more of Belle, her daughter. This is a book that will stay with you for a long, long time and perhaps inspire you to grab for the gusto, so to speak.