The Marriage of Opposites
By Alice Hoffman
Hello again!! I am stopping in to give my thoughts on this one. This I read as an e-galley from Netgalley. I obtained this for free in exchange for an honest review. It was 384 pages and was released this year.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things: a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism.
Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel’s mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel’s salvation is their maid Adelle’s belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle’s daughter. But Rachel’s life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father’s business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Fréderick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.
Hmm. I liked this one, but I did not love it. It sort of meanders along. It is not a fast action packed book. The characters in this book are complex and multifaceted and the book has many different situations that they are pushed into. The story is a deep one and Hoffman is a wonderful story-teller. The main story is about Rachel and her life and marriages. Rachel is a strong woman who in the end finds true love with her much younger nephew and still seeks acceptance. I thought that she was very hard on her own child Camille when he wishes to purse his true love, painting. Camille is Camille Pissarro who will become famous as the Father of Impressionism. Jestine is Rachel’s best friend. She is the family maid’s daughter. Rachel’s brother is in love with her. This leads to complications when Jestine becomes pregnant. It is not socially acceptable to have a child with the maid’s daughter. The solution to this dilemma is horribly cruel. The book evolves into a generational saga. I think I liked the beginning the best in this one. I liked the background we are given about Rachel growing up and the setting in St.Thomas.
The story is based on real life people in history. I felt that it illuminated many of the problems present when one goes against the mores of society. It is a book of love, heartbreak, adversity and the search for acceptance. I give this one a 3.5 out of 5 stars.