Enter to win a copy below! Open to US residents only.
Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino
Under the Wide and Starry Sky is author Nancy Horan’s fictional take on the real life love story between Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne. The book introduces Louis (as he is known in the story) to Fanny gradually and the book begins with Fanny’s back story and character development. Horan sets up the tale well; there is always something new around every turn and the entire story is presented in an honest and open format. The book starts with Fanny and her three children embarking on a new life, a respite actually, away from Fanny’s estranged husband Sam. Sam Osbourne has remained in America while Fanny and the children move to Paris. Sam has been less than faithful and being a divorced woman would be shameful to Fanny at this time, so Paris for art school is a more attractive option.
Paris does not go as planned initially, if at all, for Fanny. She is denied entry into art school for being a woman, she loses her youngest child to tuberculosis and she soon realizes that relying on her husband, who happens to be across an ocean with a mistress, for money is not as easy as she thought that it would be. When Fanny makes the decision to travel to the French countryside with her children, her life begins to take a positive turn. While at the inn, Fanny and her small family, daughter Belle and son Sammy, meet and befriend a group of bohemian writers and artists. When Louis arrives, the book obviously shifts in a new direction, which Horan does nicely without overburdening the story with fluffy romance. Louis is quick and funny and Fanny wants nothing to do with him at first. When Louis decides that he is in love with this insightful, beautiful and strong American woman, who also happens to be 10 years older than him, there is no turning back. Fanny’s resistance to Louis does not last long, but their road together is far from perfect.
Horan peppers the book with hardship, humor, love and adventure. The real life story of these two lovers is interesting, but Horan brings a level of closeness and conversation to the story that no history book could provide. The struggle of a young mother paired with the struggle of a young writer is an interesting contrast and the two make quite the pair. The book is enjoyable and is just the right amount of romantic and interesting. For history and literature lovers, this book may be the perfect romance to curl up with.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.