Rated Reads

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

by Nancy Horan

Rated: Moderate

Robert Louis Stevenson, known to all as Louis, met the fiery Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne while she was still married to the father of her three children. She had escaped her philandering husband in California and gone to Europe, on the surface to take some art classes in France along with her teen daughter. Louis fell for the passionate woman, 11 years his senior, immediately but it took several difficult years for Fanny to be able to divorce her husband and marry the sickly writer.

The couple’s life was no picnic, once Fanny was able to be with Louis. His bad lungs caused them to constantly be on the hunt for a place to live that would improve his health; his lack of real income had them constantly worried about money. Fanny wanted to live a creative life herself, writing or painting or drawing. But few of Louis’s literary friends ever took Fanny seriously, and too often Louis himself discouraged her, thinking her not as talented as he (which was probably true, but still…).

Life was full of struggle and heartache for the two, but they were able to share it and find some happiness and high points.

Nancy Horan’s novel based on facts about the Stevensons’ life together is informative and nicely written but too often was slow going for me as a reader. It did, however, make me want to seek out more information about these two interesting people, so that means something.

Rated: Moderate, for some mild language and a few somewhat detailed sex scenes.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky
  • by Nancy Horan
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: