A Different Kind of Fire
Ruby Schmidt has the talent, the drive, even the guts to enroll in art school, leaving behind her childhood home and the beau she always expected to marry. Her life at the Academy seems heavenly at first, but she soon learns that societal norms in the East are as restrictive as those back home in West Texas. Rebelling against the insipid imagery women are expected to produce, Ruby embraces bohemian life. Her burgeoning sexuality drives her into a life-long love affair with another woman and into the arms of an Italian baron. With the Panic of 1893, the nation spirals into a depression, and Ruby’s career takes a similar downward trajectory. After thinking she could have it all, Ruby, now pregnant and broke, returns to Texas rather than join the queues at the neighborhood soup kitchen.Set against the Gilded Age of America, a time when suffragettes fight for reproductive rights and the right to vote, A Different Kind of Fire depicts one woman’s battle to balance husband, family, career, and ambition. Torn between her childhood sweetheart, her forbidden passion for another woman, the nobleman she had to marry, and becoming a renowned painter, Ruby's choices mold her in ways she could never have foreseen.Includes book club questions.

A Different Kind of Fire Details

TitleA Different Kind of Fire
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 1st, 2018
PublisherWaldorf Publishing
ISBN-139781641368650
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

A Different Kind of Fire Review

  • Emily Mims
    January 1, 1970
    A sweeping saga of a woman torn between two worldsSet in turn of the century America, ‘A Different Kind of Fire’ is the story of a woman torn between the land and the man that she loves with all her heart, and the art and the woman that give her life meaning and make her whole. Talented and passionate, Ruby Schmidt leaves west Texas and rancher Bismarck Behrens for art school in Philadelphia. There she is challenged both as an artist and a woman, on one hand longing to break free of the strictur A sweeping saga of a woman torn between two worldsSet in turn of the century America, ‘A Different Kind of Fire’ is the story of a woman torn between the land and the man that she loves with all her heart, and the art and the woman that give her life meaning and make her whole. Talented and passionate, Ruby Schmidt leaves west Texas and rancher Bismarck Behrens for art school in Philadelphia. There she is challenged both as an artist and a woman, on one hand longing to break free of the strictures imposed on her by society yet still bound by her old life and the love she found there. Ms. Schafer does a marvelous job of bringing her characters to life. I felt Ruby’s deep desire to express herself creatively, her love for Bismarck, her wonder at the alternative possibilities offered to her in Philadelphia, her joy and her pain as she embarks on a different kind of romance with fellow artist Willow Wicke, her strength as she struggles to carve out a life of meaning in a society that was and yet in some ways wasn’t different from today. Ms. Schafer also brings both Bismarck and Willow to life as well, making me sympathize with them even when I didn’t always like them too much. ‘A Different Kind of Fire’ is a thought-provoking story of a woman seeking fulfillment, a ‘must read’ for anyone torn between the possibilities and seeking everything life has to offer them.
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  • Angela Pneuman
    January 1, 1970
    In Ruby Schmidt, Suanne Schafer has created a remarkable heroine, one who faces the challenges of time and convention with a vivid spirit and a sense of emotional adventure. It's a pleasure to follow her as she pursues her art, explores her loves and determines to live life on no terms but her own.
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  • Michael Hardesty
    January 1, 1970
    The protagonist, Ruby Schmidt, moves with ease between rural Texas and urban Pennsylvania, from feeding chickens to studying fine art. Even more delicate, however, is the conflict between traditional family life and bisexual romance. Ms. Schafer's story and character development make that reconciliation seem effortless.
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  • Gail Hart
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire tells the story of a remarkable woman in turn of the twentieth century America. Over the course of nearly forty years Ruby becomes a painter, a baroness, and a west Texas ranch wife, and she experiences two great loves. Debut author Schafer includes a remarkable amount of historical detail and covers important themes but avoids becoming long-winded or pretentious.
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire is a story of woman driven by her talent and her passions. Ruby does her best not to conform to the expectations of her time, class and sex. The title of the book symbolizes these contrasts from Ruby's point of view, the point of view of a rancher's daughter in Truly, Texas in the late 19th century. Her story spans from the Texas flatlands to the grimy city of Philadelphia where Ruby studies fine arts and perfects her style. The reader shares the disappointment at the pr A Different Kind of Fire is a story of woman driven by her talent and her passions. Ruby does her best not to conform to the expectations of her time, class and sex. The title of the book symbolizes these contrasts from Ruby's point of view, the point of view of a rancher's daughter in Truly, Texas in the late 19th century. Her story spans from the Texas flatlands to the grimy city of Philadelphia where Ruby studies fine arts and perfects her style. The reader shares the disappointment at the prejudices of a fine artist being confined to art appropriate to her sex and the triumph as she defies those standards. As well as in her professional life, her private life is subjected to criticism for bucking convention. When she leaves her fiance in Texas, she has a tumultuous affair with a fellow female student, an affair which haunts and follows her the rest of her life. Living a Bohemian student life gets Ruby into trouble when she gets pregnant with fellow student, d'Este's child. She marries and soon realizes her mistake as her new husband becomes violent with drink and leaves her for months on end to cope alone. Ruby makes a decision to leave and return to small town Texas where she is sharply criticized. It is a story of love and redemption. A Different Kind of Fire is one of those books you won't want to end!
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  • Janalyn Knight
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book-without stop-until I finished. The characters were so well developed I felt I knew them personally. As an art major in college I was impressed at the depth and accuracy of artistic detail throughout the book. But more than that, the author wrote from the perspective of an artist's soul. As a romance enthusiast I was caught by the loves and losses of Ruby's life and the bittersweet happily-ever-after ending. This is one of the best books I've read in a long time.
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  • Elena Mikalsen
    January 1, 1970
    Great historical fiction. Quite unique as the main character is a bisexual artist and you don't usually read this kind of a historical novel. I really loved the author's voice. Ruby drew me in right away and I followed her eagerly on her journey to becoming an artist. The story starts in rural Texas and proceeds to an art school in Philadelphia. Lovely characters who came very much alive to me. I'd read this author again for sure.
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  • Renee
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire is the story of Ruby Schmidt, a young woman who dreams of becoming an artist during the 19th century. The reader follows Ruby as she travels to Philadelphia where she attends art school, then back to Texas. Over a period of several decades, we experience Ruby’s sometimes sweet, sometimes heartbreaking journey. A Different Kind of Fire is a story of challenges, love, family, happiness, and loss. The secondary characters are well drawn. I must admit that Bismarck’s quiet s A Different Kind of Fire is the story of Ruby Schmidt, a young woman who dreams of becoming an artist during the 19th century. The reader follows Ruby as she travels to Philadelphia where she attends art school, then back to Texas. Over a period of several decades, we experience Ruby’s sometimes sweet, sometimes heartbreaking journey. A Different Kind of Fire is a story of challenges, love, family, happiness, and loss. The secondary characters are well drawn. I must admit that Bismarck’s quiet strength and his total love for Ruby was heartbreaking at times. I highly recommend this book.
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  • Orna
    January 1, 1970
    Rubby is the most fun loving, hardworking, open-minded 19th Century Wonder Woman. She is A Different Kind of Fire’s heroine, decorating this terrific novel with her unwavering spirit. As she leaves her beloved home in Texas, her family and fiancé, as well as the vastness of desert land that she loves, and sets off to tarnished, industrial Philadelphia to pursue her dream, she becomes, to this reader, a woman-to-look-up-to in the best sense of this phrase.“At least Texas has clean dirt. Philadelp Rubby is the most fun loving, hardworking, open-minded 19th Century Wonder Woman. She is A Different Kind of Fire’s heroine, decorating this terrific novel with her unwavering spirit. As she leaves her beloved home in Texas, her family and fiancé, as well as the vastness of desert land that she loves, and sets off to tarnished, industrial Philadelphia to pursue her dream, she becomes, to this reader, a woman-to-look-up-to in the best sense of this phrase.“At least Texas has clean dirt. Philadelphia is filthy. Stinks worse than a pigsty.” She comments. “My New Life began today! I walked into the Academy and immediately knew I had answered my Calling.” One of the most astonishing characteristics about her, that women of all ages need to embrace, is the fact that she sustains her mental strength and keeps her head up no matter who tries to put her down/ get her to march to their drum/ give up her dream. “Men have a sacred duty to protect women and children, sheltering them from the savageries of life. In turn, women nurture their husbands and offspring in a warm, loving home. Your painting does not lie within the realm of womanly art.”Following her passions, she falls in love with a fellow female classmate. And despite that flame being forced to separate from her, and being married off far away, Ruby remains alone in the Academy and fights through the loneliness, the broken heart situation she’s in, and the fact that she doesn’t really know where she belongs: she doesn’t belong in Texas nor Philadelphia. And therein lies her real superhero powers: she sticks to her guns. She doesn’t “lose it” or give up “As sisters, we shall encourage each other. Our devotion to art—and each other—will be as strong as marriage vows. Our ambition shall not lie dormant. We shall become artists.The true journey of our lives begins now. We will travel it together, sweetest sister, dearest friend.” She says to her lover, Willow. I love that Ruby has an agenda, that life ain’t about the things she was taught to believe in but rather about the things she taught herself to believe it. “Women are just as intelligent, just as capable, as men. Constant pregnancies keep us from achieving our own lofty goals. Men have no such impediment, do they?”A non-apologetic personality, a true spice in her vocab and art, an ability to overcome fear and a way of perceiving the world that makes her unique, all this makes Ruby and her journey one of the best reads I encountered in a long, long time. A real masterpiece. And let me just put here, my favorite all time quote: “And housewife! What an odious word. First, foremost, always, my waking thought, from the moment I was conceived, has been my desire to be an artist.”
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  • Neg Dardashti
    January 1, 1970
    A Different Kind of Fire is a unique historical romance in which the main character, Ruby, is a bisexual artist, creating an added layer of flare to the author's impeccable mastery of painting a picture and keeping her readers engaged. I loved how Ruby navigated with grace and strength through a time that was uncompr0mising and judgmental. Ruby came alive among the pages as I journeyed with her through love and loss, happiness and pain. I'd definitely recommend this book. A must read!
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  • Suanne
    January 1, 1970
    5-star review from Readers' Favorites: "In A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer, a young artist in Texas in the late 1800s is betrothed to a man she has loved since childhood. Women's rights were barely heard of, let alone spoken about, during this time. Ever the wayward child, the young woman is accepted into a prestigious art school. After her fiance promises to wait for a year, she leaves for Philadelphia, where she learns brilliant technique and endures a magnitude of criticism from te 5-star review from Readers' Favorites: "In A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer, a young artist in Texas in the late 1800s is betrothed to a man she has loved since childhood. Women's rights were barely heard of, let alone spoken about, during this time. Ever the wayward child, the young woman is accepted into a prestigious art school. After her fiance promises to wait for a year, she leaves for Philadelphia, where she learns brilliant technique and endures a magnitude of criticism from teachers. She meets another young woman who becomes much more than just a best friend. The two of them admit to more than just friendship after being informed that there are committees for women that speak about a woman's right to vote, love whomever she chooses and the right to deny her husband marital relations as well as choosing not to bear children. After not reading a romance novel in more than 18 years, I chose this book by accident and honestly could not stop reading it until the early hours of the morning. The ideals portrayed in a place and time when a woman’s right to choose was all but unthinkable, this book truly gives a brand new shine to century-old issues. Schafer paints a brilliant picture of a time that still affects women today and adds a delicious spin of love, raw and vibrant in varying settings. The story line is wild and a bit off kilter which only serves to accentuate the plot. The writing style is very unique and interesting; it is a true page turner for any romantic. I hope to read more from this author who has reintroduced me to a genre I had abandoned."
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  • Randee Green
    January 1, 1970
    Ruby Schmidt – not yet ready to settle into a hardscrabble, restricted life as a wife and mother on a ranch in 1890s West Texas – leaves behind her family and fiancé to attend art school in Philadelphia. At first, life at art school in the big city seems like everything Ruby had dreamed of as she perfects her techniques, makes new friends, and expands her horizons. After an affair with another woman, a disastrous marriage to an Italian nobleman, and numerous rejections as an artist, Ruby returns Ruby Schmidt – not yet ready to settle into a hardscrabble, restricted life as a wife and mother on a ranch in 1890s West Texas – leaves behind her family and fiancé to attend art school in Philadelphia. At first, life at art school in the big city seems like everything Ruby had dreamed of as she perfects her techniques, makes new friends, and expands her horizons. After an affair with another woman, a disastrous marriage to an Italian nobleman, and numerous rejections as an artist, Ruby returns home to Texas and marries her childhood sweetheart. Through the ups and downs of Ruby’s life, her art, her husband, and her best friend sustain her. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE is a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel about a woman who tries to break the mold in the art world in the late 1880s. During the Gilded Age, there were few choices for women other than to marry and have children. Ruby breaks the mold – especially in her small town – by attending art school. At the time, women were permitted to attend art school, but they were expected to paint pretty, feminine things. Instead of depicting children and flowers, Ruby showcases scenes of the gritty, tough life that she, her family, and friends experienced in West Texas. Ruby’s realistic, “manly” art sets her apart from other female artists, but it also hinders her career as an artist because very few people are willing to take a female artist seriously. Ruby conforms so she is able to make a living on her artwork, but she also paints for herself to save her sanity and soul. Ruby and the rest of the main characters are all well-developed. Schafer did a lot of research, and it shows in the precise details about the, people, time period, and various settings. The novel covers several decades – though the majority of the novel focuses on Ruby’s years attending art school in Philadelphia and the years immediately following her return to West Texas. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE covers many themes such as relationships (good, bad, and taboo), survival, family, ambition, and self-discovery.
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  • Deborah Bluestein
    January 1, 1970
    The author sent me a copy of this book to review. Being a slow reader I thought it would take me a long time to read it, but it was such an easy and compelling read I kept coming back to it and read it in just a few days. I like the way the emphasis in the relationships is more about the interpersonal dynamic between the lovers whose gender is secondary to the attractions that bind them to each other. Aside from Ruby's passions for her lovers, her passion for her art and her commitment to develo The author sent me a copy of this book to review. Being a slow reader I thought it would take me a long time to read it, but it was such an easy and compelling read I kept coming back to it and read it in just a few days. I like the way the emphasis in the relationships is more about the interpersonal dynamic between the lovers whose gender is secondary to the attractions that bind them to each other. Aside from Ruby's passions for her lovers, her passion for her art and her commitment to develop it in the face of insurmountable obstacles—both in society and within herself—are believable. Though many scenes are sensual, the writing is never heavy handed and the descriptions of nature and landscapes are treated with as much sensory detail as the romantic encounters. The mention of artists who flourished and made their reputations during the historic period of the novel place it in an era when women artists, especially those painting "unladylike" subjects were often marginalized. A very accomplished first novel with a story that raises questions still relevant to all women struggling today to find, claim, express, and share their artistic visions with the world. —Dorah Blume, author of historical novel Botticelli's Muse
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  • Amanda Bennett
    January 1, 1970
    The story was so beautifully written I couldn't put it down. When I needed to step away, Ruby followed, and after I finished the book, I felt like I had endured something important. Ruby's internal struggles have stayed with me and made me question how my own artistic pursuits are in opposition to many of choices I've made in my life. I loved getting lost in her bohemian experiences at art school and how it impacted her relationships with her lovers. As a native Texan, I enjoyed reading about th The story was so beautifully written I couldn't put it down. When I needed to step away, Ruby followed, and after I finished the book, I felt like I had endured something important. Ruby's internal struggles have stayed with me and made me question how my own artistic pursuits are in opposition to many of choices I've made in my life. I loved getting lost in her bohemian experiences at art school and how it impacted her relationships with her lovers. As a native Texan, I enjoyed reading about the 1890s in west Texas. So much of Ruby's young life reminded me of the stories my grandmother used to tell. I can see myself re-reading A Different Kind of Fire, and I look forward to reading future books by Suanne Schafer.
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  • Amanda Skenandore
    January 1, 1970
    This novel bears the reader through the final years of the 19th century and into the 20th alongside protagonist Ruby Schmidt. Born on a cattle ranch in Texas, Ruby aspires to be a painter and leaves her home for Philadelphia to hone her prodigious talent. What follows is a vivid portrait of love and heartbreak, ambition and strife, sexism and resilience. The author’s depictions of setting—both the rugged Texas landscape and the bustling Philadelphia metropolis—are particularly rich. I enjoyed th This novel bears the reader through the final years of the 19th century and into the 20th alongside protagonist Ruby Schmidt. Born on a cattle ranch in Texas, Ruby aspires to be a painter and leaves her home for Philadelphia to hone her prodigious talent. What follows is a vivid portrait of love and heartbreak, ambition and strife, sexism and resilience. The author’s depictions of setting—both the rugged Texas landscape and the bustling Philadelphia metropolis—are particularly rich. I enjoyed the humanness of Ruby’s struggles and applaud the author for touching on themes too often eschewed in mainstream literature. Fans of historical fiction and women’s fiction alike will enjoy this book.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    ***SPOILER ALERT*** While I'm reading this book, my review may contain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk ;)(view spoiler)[Until reading this book, I had no idea that female painters were expected to focus only on "ladylike" subjects such as flowers, landscapes, and portraits. Grrrrr. (hide spoiler)]Thank you to the author for gifting me an advance copy. All opinions are my own.
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  • Suanne
    January 1, 1970
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