Saturday, September 5, 2015

Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Rachel Pomié, born in St. Thomas at the turn of the 19th century, has always been surrounded by the lush, picturesque beauty of the island.  Still, her heart has always yearned for Paris, the home her family fled so many years ago.  With few options, she agrees to marry a local widow to save her father’s business, a kind man she doesn’t love, dreaming of the day she’ll travel home.

When her husband unexpectedly passes away, his family sends young Frédéric Pizarro to settle the estate.  Soon, the two find themselves in the midst of a passion they can’t deny, willing to incur the wrath of their tight knit Jewish community, so long as they can be together.

Hoffman’s story is mesmerizing, following the lives of Rachel and Frédéric, as well as their son Camille, who would become one of the fathers of French Impressionism. True to form, her novel has a strong sense of place; both the island of St. Thomas and the city of Paris come alive for the reader, her descriptions fairly jumping off the page. She weaves together elements of folktales and history, art and love, in a way that pulls you in from the start - not surprising for readers of her previous books like The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

Recommended for anyone that enjoys historical fiction, narrative non-fiction, or just craves a beautifully told story that will transport you.

No comments: