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'Under the Wide and Starry Sky' author Nancy Horan discusses Robert Louis Stevenson and his marriage

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(Read caption) 'Under the Wide and Starry Sky' is by Nancy Horan.

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Millions know the stories by Robert Louis Stevenson such as “Treasure Island” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

But fewer are acquainted with the story of his marriage to American Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, which is the subject of author Nancy Horan’s new novel “Under the Wide and Starry Sky.” Here at the Monitor we selected “'Under the Wide and Starry Sky” as one of the best books released this January.

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In an interview with Shelf Awareness, Horan, who is also the author of the novel about one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s romantic relationships titled “Loving Frank,” said she was inspired to take on the story of the Stevensons after she visited California and heard that Stevenson had lived there. She then discovered he was in the area because he had followed Osbourne there to try to persuade her to marry him.

“Their married life was definitely what books are made of, filled with great happiness, difficulty, illness, almost constant travel, interesting and famous people, and the quest for financial stability,” Horan said. “What interested me was the complexity of their relationship: it was beautiful, complicated, and at times aggravating to both of them.” 

In the review of the novel by Shelf Awareness, Cannon Beach Book Company’s Valerie Ryan said Horan is successful in her imagining of how the two would have spoken based on their fictional works and letters, with “results that flow so logically and naturally the reader never questions the novel's authenticity.”

“Under the Wide and Starry Sky” was released on Jan. 21.