Read Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of Destiny by Alexandra Lapierre Online


Providing a clear, accurate picture of the woman behind the genius, an incisive biography of the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson traces Fanny Stevenson's life from her early years in America to her days after his death....

Title : Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of Destiny
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780786701278
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 556 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of Destiny Reviews

  • Chrissie
    2019-04-08 00:29

    I HAD NO IDEA!!! This is continually how I reacted when I read about the life of Fanny Stevenson (1840-1914), the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson, the famed novelist, poet and travel writer (1850-1894). It was with continual wonder and surprise that I read the pages of this book. Beginning in the 1860s she traveled the world in a fashion that sounds imaginary. She traveled from Indianapolis, where she was born, to New York, then boat to the Panama Isthmus, on to San Francisco and then Nevada. The transcontinental railroad was not yet complete. To top it all off she traveled alone with her baby daughter, just a jingle of change and a few notes in her pocket. She traveled back a few years later. All her life she was a vagabond. Fed up with the antics of her first skirt-chasing husband she traveled again alone with her two young children to study art in France. Later, married to R.L.S., they sailed the South Pacific. Travel she did, and not always in luxury. Usually she was fighting somebody or something – people or illness. She was a tremendously strong woman, clearly not an easy woman to live with. She broke society’s rules over and over again. She was one determined lady, set to do exactly what was necessary to achieve her goals. I did not find her goals selfish. Once married to the interminably sick Robert she had one goal, that being to keep him alive and aid him with his writing. Here again is another artist plagued by consumption. All medical authorities said living up in the mountain air would help. They tried Switzerland; he only grew sicker. So the warmth of the South Seas drew them, finally building their own home on a jungle covered island in Samoa. Does that sound like a dream world? Well, she built the pig-pens, planted the gardens, braved cyclones alone, continually caring for the health and career of the acclaimed author. It was a characteristic of her personality to defend the weak. And R. L.S. was the same.She broke every rule of propriety. R.L.S. was eleven years her junior. After the author’s death she had other affairs, lived with another man, almost forty years her junior, who married her daughter when she herself died! She broke all rules.Following travels around the world, the reader is not only given the details of family disputes, tumults and joys but also the politics of the domicile nations. As a famed couple they could pull strings and did not hesitate to do so. Fanny and R.L.S took on the fight for the underdog. They supported the machinations of Hawaiian King Kalakaua against American powers. They sought to help the lepers on Molokai. The history of the leper colony is given. R.L.S. risked his own health to visit the island, attempting to change their conditions and the public view of lepers. . They involved themselves in the civil war and international disputes of the Samoan Islands. History is detailed. To enjoy this book the reader must be interested in such history. The artist colonies in France at the turn of the century, the growth of Impressionism, the European cultural climate in art and writing at the turn of the 19th Century - all of this is covered.This book is written a s a biography. The author separates herself from the individuals described in the pages. Fanny Stevenson is honored by some and disclaimed by others. To seek the truth, the author has thoroughly analyzed and documented her sources. In this way the reader sometimes observes rather than empathizes with the individuals. At the back of the book the sources are discussed in detail, chapter by chapter. Rather than using quotes, the lines from prime sources are put in italics in the central portion of the book. I found the numerous and lengthy sections in italics visually difficult to read, although they were skillfully woven into the narrative. For my part, the critical analysis and detachment displayed in the writing style detracted from the book’s punch. I enjoyed learning about Fanny’s personality, her life with Robert Louis Stevenson, the blossoming world of art in France, the political climate in Hawaii, the Molokai leper colony and finally life and political tensions in Polynesia, all at the turn of the 20th Century. For this reason I give the book four stars.

  • Judy
    2019-04-14 22:28

    Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of Destiny rates as one of the better biographies I've read in the last five years. I believe this one will be one that I remember and refer back to often.Fanny's life contained much diversity, adventure, travel and love's ups and downs. She certainly was a unique individual and clearly had some charisma where men were concerned, although I am still baffled as to why that was considering the chauvinistic era in which she lived. IMO Fanny serves as pre-feminist. She nursed and served Robert Louis Stevenson but couldn't be labeled as servile, if that makes any sense. She did not hesitate to give opinions and could bully others if they stood in the way of helping someone she loved. Strong-willed would be an understatement in describing Fanny.Since I am a fan of RLS, I enjoyed seeing his life through Fanny's eyes. It isn't the rose-coloured view presented by most of his biographers. His passion and loyalty towards Fanny and his friends impressed me. (view spoiler)[During Fanny's bouts with "mental illness" in Samoa, I almost cried the way he sacrificed his ill-health to nurse her back to health and then died of a stroke shortly after. Speaking of Fanny's mental illness, is it coincidental that she didn't suffer from it again after RLS died? Personally, I think she was overstressed and close to a breakdown. She bore the brunt of running the estate and nurturing a mostly selfish, dependent family. (hide spoiler)]A couple highlights of the book:*Fanny's fashion sense: wear the current style, but add at least one item that expresses your individual personality.*There is enough travel, drama and adventure for a couple of lives*The devotion and loyalty between Fanny and RLS is touching*This is my first time seeing a Notes section layout such as this one has. I liked it a lot!The only drawbacks:*Even after reading this book I still don't feel like I know Fanny as much as know about her. I don't blame the author for this because most information about her is written by her enemies who felt she stole RLS from them. However, the author did a wonderful job of reconstructing her life from letters and such.*The other drawback is only a minor one and a personal peeve. I detest it when authors write lines such as 'She didn't know this would be the last time ...' or 'Little did she know that....' I hate being told something before it happens in a biography. I like to know what happens in the order it happens. Fortunately, this book indulges in only a minor amount of this tactic.Fanny Stevenson = a solid 4.0 stars

  • Marianne
    2019-04-21 00:31

    I was fascinated with the lives of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny Osbourne. They traveled the world in search of a environment that would suit Louis's condition. I found it amazing that they traveled and lived in the harshest conditions in the mid 1800's.....and loved it!I love biographies....and this book did not disappoint. It's a long read and most of the story I was familiar with after reading "Under the Wide and Starry Sky" by Nancy Horan which I also enjoyed tremendously.....I have been inspired to read "The Voyage Windward" and other books about the Stevenson s.

  • Becky Loader
    2019-04-16 22:18

    Oh, Fanny.Fanny Stevenson endured a marriage of hardship and a philandering husband. Determined to study art, she took the brave step to leave the U.S. with her children in tow. Meeting Robert Louis Stevenson at an artist colony, she fell in love head over heels. They had an amazing life together. I like reading biographies to fill in the details so often left out in the fleeting memory of fame. Great book about a woman before her time.

  • Rebecca Blackson
    2019-04-11 21:42

    This was an interesting and fun read, despite being horrifically long. For some odd reason, I thought the first half of the book about her life with her first husband was more interesting than her famous life with Robert Louis Stevensen. And I don't think she was a "violent" person at all. I think she went through horrendous trials that strained her to exhaustion both mentally and physically.

  • Natalie
    2019-04-14 21:32

    Excellent book. I love well written stories about real people who lived their life with inner dignity and courage!

  • Loretta
    2019-04-18 05:19

    I would rather read a biography than just about anything else and this re-enforces my love of that genre. This is an extraordinary story of the woman behind Robert Louise Stevenson.

  • Susan
    2019-03-29 22:37

    Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne Stevenson was a remarkable woman who seemed to live several different lives in one lifespan. She traveled back and forth between the civilized world and the barbarous regions at the edge of society, not with aplomb, but with gritty determination. (view spoiler)[ Her adventures included traveling across the isthmus of panama before the canal was built, crossing the desert in a stagecoach, setting up housekeeping in a mining camp, studying painting in France, being romanced by a young Robert Louis Stevenson, sailing the Pacific Ocean, and forging a plantation from the jungle in Samoa. Add to this her success at being what is now referred to as a “cougar.” Fanny, however, was not a carefree bon vivant who sought out adventure, it just seemed that these unusual circumstances placed themselves in her path, and she forthrightly rolled up her sleeves and tackled each task as it came before her. There was much turmoil and strife in her life that took its toll on her – a philandering husband, the unseemliness of divorce in Victorian times, her nervous breakdown and mental illness, and the never-ending fight for the lives of beloved invalids, her son and her frail young husband.(hide spoiler)] One of her acquaintances said that you either loved her or hated her. I loved to read about her and definitely admire her pluck, but am not quite sure what I would have thought of Fanny Stevenson had our paths crossed in real life. As to how the book was written, I have my problems with Ms. LaPierre. Is this a biography or a novelization? Parts of the book are dramatized and if this were a novel, and scenes are acted out, and told from various viewpoints of the characters involved. These are not “characters,” however, but real people. I would rather have read a straight biography of this fascinating woman than have scenes enacted. We get an almost moment-by-moment description of what went on in Fanny’s mind and life while she decided whether to stay with her husband or leave him for RLS, but other phases or her life are skimmed over. She meets RLS while he is baring earning a living as a writer, and once she marries him he is a famous author. When exactly did this happen? We see her mental illness from her daughter’s prospective, who thinks to herself, “Oh, I should have mentioned to the doctor that mother thought she was pregnant with ten babies, and made the house she was building especially large to accommodate them all.” What?!?!?! Not enough facts for a biography; not enough insight for a novel. I have given it four stars mainly because I found Fanny so interesting.

  • Kelly
    2019-04-13 03:32

    I give this tome four stars, because it is exhaustive in it's content. I'm not entirely sure how the author could have pared it down without sacrificing the readers' ability to know their subject, Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne Stevenson, wife of Robert Louis Stevenson. She lived quite an interesting life, with her travels being at the forefront of her story. She seems to me like an accidentally worldly person; her first husband's fortune-seeking put her on a path of following him around the country. Then as a wife and mother, she was lacking personal satisfaction, and so headed to Europe to pursue artistic endeavors. There she met RLS, eventually decided to end her marriage to the philandering Sam Osbourne, and marry Stevenson. Quite scandalous in those days! The courage she had in building a life for herself and Stevenson on the Samoan islands is remarkable. She practically built their house herself, with few supplies and even less help. Her passion is also worth noting-she kept RLS alive by being willing to live wherever in the world his illness would go into remission. She knew that she could keep him alive by sheer determination, and she did. What I found most interesting about Fanny was her will to keep building and rebuilding her own life after her significant losses. All in all, an interesting biography of a woman I knew nothing about beforehand.

  • Catherine
    2019-03-26 01:35

    Why I will not read Under the Wide and Starry Sky" Under the wide and starry sky " by Nancy Horan, even though I fairly liked Loving Frank. Simply because The WomenThe women by TC Boyle was great and much more then Loving frank . And now with this new book it is the same only reverse I have read Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of DestinyFanny Stevenson : between Passion and freedom by Alexandra Lapierre.A wonderful story. It was fun and fast to read. The book focused mainly on stevenson's wife and it was good. But I am not sure I need to read another one . So if someone has read Nancy Horan book and Lapierre's book I would love to read about their comments.I hate to pass a good book!

  • Pat
    2019-04-19 21:27

    This is an excellent biography of Robert Louis Stevenson's wife translated from French. It is well documented, well written, and well translated. What a strong, strong woman who knows what she wants and goes after it often to the detriment of others and eventually to herself. She lives for the moment with little thought of consequences as long as adventure is involved. She devotes her life to keeping the frail RLS alive, his writing and his happiness all intertwined! Their family dynamics, their travels, and their devotion to each other are all fascinating. I read this for a book club meeting scheduled for next week, and I am excited for the discussion to begin!

  • Tamara Willems
    2019-04-02 00:24

    Superb! I thoroughly enjoyed this comprehensively researched biography of quite a remarkably strong passionate woman, who lived her life through the greatest gift of love. Whose incredible ability to endure and adapt to some of life's harshest measures with unbelievable strength and courage, mark her as a very modern woman ahead of her time in history. At times overlooked, the sometimes vilified 'woman behind the man', Mrs Robert Louis Stevenson - the indelible Fanny Stevenson deserves our highest respect and remembrance Beautifully presented here.

  • Carolyn
    2019-04-06 03:34

    This book looks at the fascinating life of Fanny Stevenson, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson. She was born in mid-America and came to be the driving force in the career and life of the famous Scottish author. Both of their stories are vastly interesting. They are, of course, intensely complex individuals. She, much more so than he. This is one of the best biographies that I have ever read. Meticulously researched and expertly written. It is out of print, but look for it at the library or buy it used. You won't regret it.

  • Daniele
    2019-04-01 02:19

    quelle femme! quelle passion! quelle vie! quel amour! j'ai tout aime dans ce livre et Alexandra Lapierre a clairement eu un coup de foudre pour Fanny, coup de foudre qu'elle ne pouvait que nous faire partager. J'ai ri, j'ai pleure et j'ai eu envie de relire les RLS que je n'avais pas lu depuis mon enfance. A la lumiere de l'histoire de M et Mme RLS, "L'Ile au Tresor" et autres merveilles n'en devenaient que plus beaux. Merci

  • Mary
    2019-03-24 04:25

    An incredible woman of her time. An amazing story of a symbiotic family that has some wild travels. Don't really understand the allure of Robert Louis Sfevenson. I would have liked to get into the head of Fanny more. Where the author got all her quotes stumped me. Way too long.

  • Joanne
    2019-03-26 04:17

    Alexandra Lapierre is a superb scholar and a wonderful storyteller. Fanny Stevenson's story is epic. I will never forget her fearless trek across Panama. Bonus: You get to know Robert Louis Stevenson as well. Visit Lapiere's site:

  • Julie
    2019-04-01 05:31

    This is the biography of the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson. I found it fascinating. Though the detailed narrative became tedious at times, it was beautifully written and meticulously researched.

  • Charity
    2019-04-12 00:15

    There were parts of this book that were quite interesting, but in the end, the level of detail was just too exhausting to keep me interested.

  • Benjamincottin
    2019-03-26 04:14

    La vie de Madame Robert Louis Stevenson...passionnant !