In her debut novel, A Different Kind of Fire, Suanne Schafer weaves a compelling tale of a young woman’s struggle to become an artist. The story kept me cheering for Ruby Schmidt on every step of her journey from young love in rural Texas to art school in sophisticated 1890s Philadelphia.
Ruby loses everything dear to her in the process of leaving home, training as an artist, and having love affairs with a woman and a man. Page after page one wonders how she’ll overcome the high cost of following her dreams. It’s easy to identify with Ruby’s struggle to be true to considerable talents in spite of pregnancies and failed relationships. The book provided a fascinating glimpse of how times were different in the past and reminders that so many of life’s challenges for women haven’t changed that much in more than a hundred years.