Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

This novel chronicles the love story of Fanny Van de Grift Osborne and Robert Louis Stevenson from the moment they met in a quiet town in France to her life after his death. Louis, as he was called, moved into Fanny’s apartment after a short while after their introduction, and the couple was happy until Franny’s husband, Sam, from whom she was separated, persuaded Fanny to reunite with him and move back to America. She tried this arrangement for the sake of her two children, but Sam soon became unfaithful again, and after about a year, finally agreed to a divorce. Fanny and Louis were married and sailed for the South Seas, in an attempt to improve Louis’ health, as he had been an invalid for much of his life. Life in Samoa became quite an adventure, although the couple suffered many ups and downs throughout their married life.

I found the novel very enjoyable, and wonder how much is based in fact. I’m tempted to read a biography of Stevenson or his wife Fanny to find out the balance between fact and fiction. One tidbit in the novel that was interesting was a description of Fanny’s house in San Francisco, where she moved after Louis died. It contained a stained glass window depicting the Hispaniola from Treasure Island. I would definitely recommend it as a literary romance.

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