When the Timing is Off

After downloading Nancy Horan’s historical fiction about the life of Robert Louis Stevenson – Under the Wide and Starry Sky – I stopped at chapter 2.  Having enjoyed her first book, Loving Frank, her version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s tumultuous affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, I decided the library book that had just arrived would offer a better approach than my iPhone. Maybe I needed real pages to turn.  Painstakingly, I persevered through fourteen chapters (of 90), and stopped again.

The not so well-known relationship of the frail R.L. Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne, a married woman with a free spirit and a penchant for being a painter, has been tapped by the Today Show for its Book Club.  Susan Cokal for the New York Times notes in her review that “the early chapters provide a stirring overture, with enough lyrical emotion and fervent aspiration to satisfy even a 19th-­century reader.”  

But Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post Dispatch says: “{the plot} sometimes plods, as Horan seemingly tries to work in every episode of the couple’s lives together over 20 years…”  As with Loving Frank, Horan manages to be the fly on the wall to hear all those fictional conversations.

I just can’t get into it. I’ll try again later – maybe.  Have you read it?