WARNING: This book will make you cry. At least it made me cry. A lot.
Schafer has a crisp, concise, and grab-you-by-the-ovaries style of writing that will pull you in from the very first page.
I kept thinking that I knew what our protagonist, Ruby, was going to do next, but she is NOT predictable. I loved how Schafer made her an iconoclast without making her an anachronism: Ruby is very much a woman of her time, but she is also persistent, diligent, and pursuing her inner vision in the quiet “female” way that was available to her.
I had a soft spot for Bismark right from the beginning (good times in this book, folks….) That said, I could definitely see how her life half a continent away was not going to make for a smooth journey for the two of them.
Schafer mixes her fictional creations with real historical figures (Buffalo Bill Cody and several painters who hung out in Philly during the same period) which makes for a very rich tapestry. She also handles Ruby’s sexual development in a deft and very natural-feeling manner. Her characters, even the minor ones, were not cardboard cutouts. Lots of complexity both within themselves and also when it came to interpersonal relationships.
This was a book I stayed up late reading. Can’t wait to buy a copy of this for my mother, who loves historical fiction!