What a delightfully complex exploration of the mother of painter Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism. Fiction or non-fiction is impossible to determine, though of course some of it must be. Colour and nature feature prominently but so does the history and culture of St Thomas Island and its Jewish settlement. So many elements – slavery, racism, bigotry – make one unsettled but equally, there are layers of forbidden romance and enveloping tenderness.
The writing is solid and jumps from character to character. A great read if you want to learn some history as it was lived.
Hoffman is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things.
From Goodreads – 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.
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 Fréderick is a story that is as unforgettable as it is remarkable.