Written by Lauryn Smith
If you are unsure whether to read classics by Robert Louis Stevenson, such as "Treasure Island" or "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," pick up a copy of Nancy Horan’s "Under the Wide and Starry Sky" to garner a decision. After reading her novel, you will want to jump into Stevenson’s stories straight away.
In "Under the Wide and Starry Sky," another woman-behind-the-man story and Horan’s second novel, Horan captures the charismatic character who is Robert Louis Stevenson, known by his friends simply as Louis, by introducing readers to his American wife, Fanny Osbourne. Following Fanny’s story, Horan exposes the intricacies of life as an artist.
Fanny leaves her adulterous first husband at the age of 35, taking her three children with her from San Fransisco to Belgium and later, after tragedy hits the family, to Paris. With the goals of recuperating, studying art and establishing a new and better life for herself and her children, Fanny finds herself at a quiet artists’ colony, where she meets her eventual second husband. Louis, who is 10 years Fanny’s junior and has a personality Horan describes as being a “theater of emotion,” becomes enamored by the down-to-earth, self-sufficient Fanny and pursues her reciprocal desire. Fanny does not take to Louis right away, but after some time succumbs to the charms of the Scottish lawyer turned writer. Louis’s lifelong sicknesses, Fanny’s personal troubles and their expansive travels around the globe cause their relationship to be an adventure full of both high highs and low lows.
About the Nook
The Nook is a collective space where Reviewers share their thoughts on and reactions to the books they have just finished reading. Have something to say in response to a Reviewer's entry? Add a comment! Consider Reviewers your virtual book buds. You can also check out individual Reviewers' diaries to get a sense each one's unique tastes and ideologies.