Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan {Book Review}

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Title: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Author: Nancy Horan

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: 1-21-14

Pages: 496

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Source: ARC kindly provided in exchange for honest review


Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics including Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer. And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world.

My Review

I decided to stop reading this book at 46%.
This book had so much potential. I was excited to read about a whirlwind love affair between a famous writer and a bull-headed divorcée…but that wasn’t what I got. I dragged myself through the first half of this book for days and days, not wanting to pick it up, but knowing that I needed to at least tryto get through this. I gave it a really good shot, but this book and I just didn’t click. Maybe it was just me, but it was so hard to get through.

The writing was dense and very textbook-like. I didn’t feel like I was reading a story; the writing didn’t come alive. The characters were dynamic, but they almost felt forced. It seemed like Horan was having trouble taking these people out of history and making them into more than just words. I didn’t relate to these characters, I didn’t empathize with them, and I didn’t understand the choices that they were making. There wasn’t even really development from Fanny and Louis meeting each other and then falling “madly” in love. It just sort of…happened. We didn’t get to watch. And I couldn’t feel the connection between the two of them. Why did they care so much about each other? What made them follow each other across the world? Most of the time, they were just two annoying people in a room together. There wasn’t life in their relationship…it wasn’t real.

And I just couldn’t force myself to keep reading this novel when it never seemed to get any better. It’s unfortunate, because I really thought I was going to like this one, and it was well-written in that the words flowed nicely and the dialogue was believable, but I just didn’t find myself captivated by Under the Wide and Starry Sky, so I had to stop reading.

My Rating

2 Anchors

6 responses to “Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan {Book Review}

  1. It is sad the book didn’t end up being good, I am surprised you made it that far before giving up. I normally force myself to 50 pages before I let myself stop. The basis and idea for the book is cool though

    • Yeah, I normally make myself get to 20% before I can quit. But the thing was that I wasn’t sure that I was going to quit. The pacing was weird, so I kept expecting it to pick up, but it just never did. By the time I realized it wasn’t ever going to, I was pretty far along. And the writing was pretty, so that was kind of distracting. Normally I never get this far before DNFing a book, but I wanted to like it so badly and I was hoping it would get better :/

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  3. Pingback: Book Review: Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (2/5). Too long and poor audio. | Taking on a World of Words·

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