Set in beautiful 1800’s St. Thomas, The Marriage of Opposites is the life story of Rachel, the mother of Camille Pissarro. As a young girl with very modern sensibility, Rachel is frustrated by the confining rules for and roles of women born in that era. Though her father educates her on practical matters, such as how to manage the ledgers for the family business, she must eventually fulfill her family obligation and marry a widower, much her senior, with three young children. She does her best to conform and goes on to have children of her own with this man though she doesn’t love him (but does have a great deal of affection and respect for him). When she herself is widowed and a representative of her late husband’s family is sent from Paris to settle the estate, a scandelous relationship develops that will threaten the reputations of Rachel and her entire family.
There is no doubt that Alice Hoffman writes a beautiful book every time! She has a way of weaving the most interesting characters, historical facts, exotic locations, and women’s (human) issues that is beyond compare. In this book, I found the history behind one of the most important artists of the period to be both tragic and fascinating. The characters were richly developed – even the few that were less than endearing. There are stories within stories and layers of secrets and multigenerational complexities that ensure there isn’t a boring moment in this book.
My rating: 4.5 stars
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