I absolutely loved this book.
When I was at BEA in the spring, I stood in a very long line (I was number 3 though!) to see Alice Hoffman and to get her new book, The Marriage of Opposites.
First, I must say that Ms. Hoffman is one of my fave authors. I think I’ve read everything she’s written. She is quite gracious in person and was a delight in our albeit very brief meeting (where I tried not to gush). I was later interviewed by Simon and Schuster for something on camera, gushing about how much I love her writing (thankfully I have never found that video clip online, as I’m sure I’d be horrified at my lack of composure and disheveled appearance, being interviewed on the fly during a huge event in NYC).
Anyway – I digress. This story is about the parents of Camille Pissarro, the great French painter. I have to say that I knew absolutely nothing about his background, and while I am sure that he is fascinating in his own right, Hoffman’s story focuses on his mother, Rachel, and her life as she grows up among a community of refugee European Jews, who are living in the Virgin Islands during the early 1800’s. Rachel is married off to an old widower while she is quite young, and she comes to love his children and to respect him. When he dies suddenly, his younger nephew arrives to take over the business. He and Rachel fall deeply in love – even though she is substantially older and their union is forbidden as they are seen as “family”. Out of their relationship comes Camille.
I loved this story — the characters, the setting, the writing. Rachel’s story was fascinating to me and I loved the subplots and “supporting characters” with their stories along the way.
Historical Fiction at its finest!
To get you in the mood, here’s a picture by Pissarro that I got via Google Images: