Under the Wide and Starry Sky

6 of 7
Under the Wide and Starry Sky
496 pages; Ballantine Books

To Help You See: The Next Love Is Coming

In this novel, based on real events, eccentric, single-minded Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, a mother with three children, heads to Europe to escape her cheating husband. In a resort town, she picks up a young beau who turns out to be future famous author Robert Louis Stevenson. Thus begins Fanny's new life as the wife of a Bohemian British writer, with whom she explores the South Pacific (among other adventures). Though her new relationship isn't all smooth sailing, the story proves that whether in the 1830s or the early 2000s, American lives, at least American women's lives, do have exhilarating second acts.
— Amy Shearn and Susan Welsh