The Marriage of Opposites

by Alice Hoffman

4 of 5 stars 1 rating • 1 review • 4 shelved
Book cover for The Marriage of Opposites

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The Marriage of Opposites

by Alice Hoffman

4 of 5 stars 1 rating • 1 review • 4 shelved
From the bestselling author of The Dovekeeperscomes a love story about one of history's most captivating 'invisible' women: Rachel, the mother of Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro.

Growing up on the idyllic island of St Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel's mother, a pillar of their tight-knit refugee community of Jews who escaped the European Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for refusing to live by the rules. But Rachel's fate is not in her own hands: in order to secure the future of her father's business, she is married off to a widower with three children. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome nephew Frederic arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes control of her life, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal affecting her entire family, including her favourite son, Camille Pissarro, who will one day become a founder member of the Impressionists and one of history's greatest artists.

Set in a world of lush, exquisite beauty, The Marriage of Oppositesshows Alice Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. The marriage of Rachel and Frederic is an unforgettable story of an extraordinary woman and her forbidden love.
  • ISBN10 1451693591
  • ISBN13 9781451693591
  • Publish Date 4 August 2015
  • Publish Status Out of Stock
  • Imprint Simon & Schuster
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 384
  • Language English


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Lianne 4 of 5 stars
I received an ARC of this book from the publishers for an honest review. This review in its entirety was originally posted at

It takes maybe a chapter or two to really get into the story and the narrative style used, but after that I was just totally drawn into the story. This story follows the life of Rachel Pomie, her upbringing on St. Thomas, her marriages, her family, her relationship with her son Camille Pissarro. Rachel is a headstrong woman whose passion and imagination just doesn’t conform with the close-knit Jewish community that she grew up in and especially not with her mother whom she does not get along. It was stressful to read at times as she faced off with her community over her relationship with Frederick and later with Camille; I just wanted her to be happy and to do what she wants (though she can be a little frustrating at times too!).

Like in Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman does a wonderful job in presenting a multigenerational story and the intricate nature of family relationships between motThere are of course secrets in this family that colour some of the relationships, namely between Rachel and her mother, but it was sort of introduced a little late for me to really be as interested as I would normally be to such revelations. I also learned quite a bit from this novel about places, events, and artists.

The Marriage of Opposites was overall an interesting read. I felt the narration at times sounded a little odd, namely when it switches from Rachel’s first-person to a third-person narration, but there were a lot of great lines throughout and I really came to care for the characters and what happened to them, even when they frustrated me at times. Readers of Alice Hoffman’s novels and historical fiction will want to check out this title.