Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Plot Summary Part 4

Do you see the significance of this? This book is the fictionalized account of Robert Louis Stevenson's life. But this part of his life was so boring that even in his own time, when he was most famous, that his own contemporaries found it boring. So how can we find it interesting? The answer is, we can't, because nothing happens.

At this point the author is doing little more than recounting mundane details of life on the island until Louis dies.  After he dies, Fanny, deep in mourning, goes back to California and finds a much younger man with a much more active p_nis to bone her.

The end.

PS His name was Ned Field and he was 40 years younger than Fanny.

Literary Criticism:

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I knew this book was bad just when I saw the title. "Under the Wide and Starry Sky". Huh? What does that have to do with Robert Louis Stevenson, or anything else for that matter? I think Nancy Horan's editor read this manuscript, realized it was all about nothing, and couldn't think of a name for this incoherent mess.

For a mess it is. Let us peel back all the layers of boredom this book presents.

1) It presents us with the life of a writer. Guess what? Writer's lives generally aren't interesting. They spent their lives... writing. Writing a book about someone writing a book is not interesting.

2) It presents us with the life of a "famous" writer. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote two briefly popular books, Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He didn't invent the airplane or the cure for cancer. He wrote two popular, escapist books. They were not timeless works of art. To have a book focused on him doesn't really make sense. Most people living today have never even heard of him.

3) It presents us with the life of the wife of the "famous" writer. As if writing a book about Louis isn't obscure enough, this book is actually about Louis's...wife. If nothing happened in Louis's life, even less happened in Fanny's.

4) It presents us with the life of a man who doesn't do very much. Most of Louis's story is about him getting sick repeatedly. Then we get bogged down in the minutia of him building a house on a South Pacific island. That's it. That's the entire story.

The story was interesting, very briefly, when both Sam and Louis were competing for Fanny. For a brief chapter or two we had a little bit of suspense, a tiny bit of drama. The rest of the book reads like a boring person's diary.

Nancy Horan likes to write "The wife of someone famous" stories. Here's a suggestion. Stop writing stories about the "Wife of", and just write a story about a person.

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Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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