Having been totally absorbed in Loving Frank by Nancy Horan when I read it, I eagerly awaited her follow-up, Under the Wide and Starry Sky (Ballantine, Jan.), and was certainly not disappointed. Horan develops her historical characters so that they seem like real persons dealing with life in the 19th century. Robert Louis Stevenson is passionately in love with the strong and spirited Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, who eventually returns his love in kind. Their life is not an easy one; Stevenson struggles to get his work recognized while dealing with many illnesses. The author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a lover of nature, seclusion, and family, all of which are important parts of his world. Fanny’s love for Robert is strong enough to allow for this. He so beautifully writes to her and of her: “Teacher, tender, comrade, wife, A fellow-farer true through life....” Never again will I look at his novels in the same way.
Rita F. Maggio, BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J.