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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

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Average Customer Ratings

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Nancy Horan - another good one!

Where does Under the Wide and Starry Sky rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top 10%

What other book might you compare Under the Wide and Starry Sky to and why?

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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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good performance, story goes on a little LONG

Would you try another book from Nancy Horan and/or Kirsten Potter?

Yes I would. I felt this went on a bit long but that is more because of the lives these people led rather than the storytelling. Was pretty amazing to go from Paris to Monterrey to the south pacific. I knew nothing of RL stevenson's life at all and was really interesting!

Have you listened to any of Kirsten Potter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I had just listened to Station 11 and the content was so different that it was an odd experience frankly!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fan of Nancy Horan

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. It provides some literary history with some texture from the era they lived in and their personal lives.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • cindy
  • st. paul, MN, United States
  • 03-28-14

Not your typical love story adventure

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Lovely story

Fascinating, eventful and charming. I loved it! Stevenson was an engaging and creative character, Fanny a devoted and loving wife. Through all the turmoil they remained dedicated to one another. The reader is gifted and makes a the story come alive with feeling. Her use of accents adds dimension.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Difficult to put down!

Thoroughly enjoyed this story! Performance was excellent. The writing was beautiful and thought provoking; providing a most pleasant experience!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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loved all of it! what a wonderful story of love an

what a wonderful story of love and life...Robert and Fanny Stevenson are such interesting people-together

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  • Mollie
  • United States
  • 12-09-16

Determined to stick it out

It took me more than a month to finish this book. I wanted to read it because I visited the Writer's Museum in Edinburgh in May where I learned a lot about Robert Louis Stevenson. RLS is one of Scotland ' s "big 3." I liked the book, but it drug on and on at times. The narration was slow, but it helped put me to sleep each night.

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Enjoyed

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes

What other book might you compare Under the Wide and Starry Sky to and why?

Loving Frank

What about Kirsten Potter’s performance did you like?

Wonderful voices, especially R.L.S.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

A few tears, in several sad parts, and many smiles.

Any additional comments?

This book kept my interest most of the time. Still, a little editing would have made it better for me.

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Masterful!

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.

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  • Rosie
  • 01-20-17

A great story slightly let down by the narration

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would because it's a really interesting book and allows you to look at that period in history, and the lives of the people concerned, in an unusual way.

What did you like best about this story?

I like that is is about travellers and thoroughly creates the world of this 19th century bohemian family. I also like that it is a love story, but a realistic one. Louis and Fanny's marriage is very loving, but it is not without problems. Fanny, in particular, is a very interesting character; it's nice to see a woman in literature who is a realistic character, not a saint, a victim or a femme fatale.

What three words best describe Kirsten Potter’s performance?

Can't do accents.<br/><br/>I don't hate the performance, but if bad accents are a turn-off for you then don't buy this book. She is an American and can do neither a Scottish or an English accent, which is not great as more than half of the characters are British. Her performance of Fanny is very good though.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. The book is fairly episodic (and long) and so suits the way I listen to it, which is mostly during my commute.