The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

THE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITES By Alice Hoffman

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster

Release Date:  August 4, 2015
Pages:  384
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Format:  Hardcover

Book Description: 
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, Fr├ęderick, 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.

Building on the triumphs of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, set in a world of almost unimaginable beauty, The Marriage of Opposites showcases the beloved, bestselling Alice Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Fr├ęderick is a story that is as unforgettable as it is remarkable.


Wanda's Thoughts: 
A fascinating novel! The Marriage of Opposites is based on Rachel Pomie Petit Pizzaro’s life that takes place in St. Thomas beginning in 1807.

Rachel Pomie was a defiant girl, never following the rules and doing what she was told. Rachel was close to her father, Moses Monsanto Pomie who was well thought of, and was well favored in all his endeavors as a prominent merchant. Her mother, Sara Pomie, was a stern and bitter woman with a sharp tongue. Rachel was never able to do anything that pleased her, and few people dared to go against her.

Rachel was married off at a very young age to Isaac Petit, a French Jew, who was 30 years older, with three children. His wife had passed away shortly after their last child was born. Their marriage would be a bridge for the two families, combining businesses and strengths. Her fate was to enter a loveless marriage to a sorrowful man, with three children. Isaac’s sudden death changes her life tremendously. She never loved Isaac; she was only twenty-nine, and too young to be a widow, but she was now responsible for six children.

Frederic, Isaac’s nephew, comes to settle the estate, and run the family business. Rachel was seven years older than he and had been through a lifetime of experiences in those seven years. She’d been a married woman, a widow, and a mother. Frederic seemed to cast a spell on her and she found herself longing for him, but a relationship like this could go no further. It was forbidden within a family. They were related only by marriage, rather than blood, but it could not happen. And the story unfolds as a forbidden love takes place between Rachel and Frederic.

Rachel’s son, Jacobo Camille Pizzarro, is a favorite son and a large and interesting part of the story line. He becomes a well-known artist of the 20th century.

The writing is strong, and the many historical details add a touch of depth. I loved the author’s lyrical style – absolutely beautiful! The story is so vividly told – a unique style of writing, indeed! I've found a new favorite author.  An exceptional read! My rating – 5 stars.


About the Author:  Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Her most recent works include NIGHTBIRD, THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS, and THE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITES.

Hoffman’s work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay “Independence Day,” a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Weist. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel AQUAMARINE was recently made into a film starring Emma Roberts.