Book of the Month: March 2014


Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank fascinated readers and was one of the most popular book club books of all time. Under the Wide and Starry Sky, her anxiously-awaited second novel, is poised to capture readers hearts and give them insight into the life of another artist viewed through the prism of the strong woman by his side. Loving Frank opened our eyes to the world of Frank Lloyd Wright and architecture; Under the Wide and Starry Sky will do the same for Robert Louis Stevenson and writing.

The story is a fictionalized account of the relationship between Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. After meeting the Scotsman at a French artists’ colony, Fanny becomes Louis’ lover and caretaker, and ultimately his wife.

Taking its title from the first line of Stevenson’s poem, “Requiem,” Horan’s novel is a heartbreaking tale about the tumultuous nature of love and the creative process. As they travel the world together and Stevenson pens some of the most popular novels of the 19th Century – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island – Fanny’s creative aspirations shrivel in the face of Louis’ achievements. But without her, Horan posits, none of those achievements could have ever come to fruition.


From Nancy Horan, New York Times bestselling 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.


Nancy Horan is best known for her 2007 novel Loving Frank, which chronicles a little-known chapter in the life of legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and his client, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Loving Frank remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for over a year. It has been translated into sixteen languages, and won the 2009 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction, awarded by the Society of American Historians.

A native Midwesterner, Nancy Horan was a teacher and journalist before turning to fiction writing. She lived for 25 years in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where she raised her two sons. She now lives with her husband on an island in Puget Sound.

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