From Nancy Horan, New York Times best-selling 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.
©2014 Nancy Horan (P)2014 Random House Audio
"Fascinating...a novel that shows how love and marriage can simultaneously offer inspiration and encumbrance." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A lot of fun...Horan drapes this skeleton of facts with a richly imagined musculature of love, laughter, pain and sacrifice." (USA Today)
In the top 10%
It was similar to Loving Frank because Horan brought a real person to life. It reads like a novel, but it is very interesting to read about the history of Robert Louis Stevenson (in this book) and Frank Lloyd Wright in Loving Frank. Of course, I think Horan says that it is a somewhat factionalized account... They are both excellent listens!
Yes. It provides some literary history with some texture from the era they lived in and their personal lives.
I don't know how Nancy Horan does it but she transports the reader to the lives and times that she is writing about. "Loving Frank" is still my all time favorite audiobook.
Finally, a love story that doesn’t end happily or tragically. Horan is able to portray Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fannie as they really are, human. They both make mistakes, act impulsively and drift apart, which really happens to couples. It wasn’t love at first sight and happily ever after. I really began to under Fannie and her moods towards the end when Louis had his revelation when she was ill. It takes a lot for person to step back and see the situation for what it really is and how they got there. Louis was accountable for his part in their hectic lives and was big enough to own it and tell Fannie so. A part of me hopes that Louis really did understand how much work Fannie put into keeping him alive and what a toll it took on her and her children. As far as Fannie, I understand how other viewers may say that Fannie is all about herself and to a certain extent that’s true but who isn’t? I think Fannie was a woman before her time, a woman willing to do whatever it took to get the job done.
Overall, I enjoyed the audio book very much. I thought the narrator did a fantastic job differentiating the characters and their accents. I was very sorry that the book ended sooner than I felt like I knew each of the main characters so well by then. Even though the two parts of the audio book total about 16 hours, it sure didn’t seem that long. However, if I had read the book, I can’t say for sure that I would have finished the book eagerly. I have to admit there were chapters during the book that I thought the author could have hurried through.
Wonderful voices, especially R.L.S.
A few tears, in several sad parts, and many smiles.
This book kept my interest most of the time. Still, a little editing would have made it better for me.
Marvelous insight into RLS's life and times. Bravo to the narrator for her masterful voicing particularly her male Irish brogue! Astonishingly convincing and nuanced.
connoisseur of fine honey
I enjoyed Under the Wide and Starry Night almost as much as Loving Frank. That's only because I'm a big Frank Lloyd fan. Both books are beautifully composed. I am waiting for Nancy's next book.
Awful narration of the story of lives that deserve stellar writing, which is also missing. I hope someone else has done a better job and I look forward to reading some of the source materials on which the writer based this book.
I didn't find this book very interesting. I didn't bother downloading the second part as I could justify listening to another 8 plus hours of a story that seemed to be going nowhere. The narration was good, although I'm not sure about her Scottish accent!
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