The Marriage of Opposites
New York Times bestseller
“A luminous, Marquez-esque tale” (O, The Oprah Magazine) from the New York Times bestselling author of The Museum of Extraordinary Things: a forbidden love story set on a tropical island about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro—the Father of Impressionism.
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 older husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Frédérick, 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.
“A work of art” (Dallas Morning News), The Marriage of Opposites showcases the beloved, bestselling Alice Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. “Her lush, seductive prose, and heart-pounding subject…make this latest skinny-dip in enchanted realism…the Platonic ideal of the beach read” (Slate.com). Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Frédérick “will only renew your commitment to Hoffman’s astonishing storytelling” (USA TODAY).
The Marriage of Opposites is a recommended read in Woman’s Day magazine.
For the week of August 17th, The Marriage of Opposites ranks at #9 on the National Indie Bestseller List!
“As lush and evocative as one of Pissarro’s paintings.”
“The prolific Alice Hoffman’s new novel, The Marriage of Opposites, is a fierce, sorrowful tale of the conflict between personal desire and social constraints that echoes through three generations on the island of St. Thomas in the first half of the 19th century.”
—The Washington Post, Read full review
“Rachel could easily have remained the focus of this beguiling novel, but as Hoffman begins to write from the point of view of the color-bedazzled, sly, rebellious, and charming boy who will become the renowned painter Camille Pissarro, a leader and mentor among the impressionists, we see the world afresh as a perpetual dance of radiance and darkness, form and space. Of course, Hoffman herself is an artist, rendering each setting with sumptuous and incandescent detail and capturing every shade and hue of suffering and bliss.”
“Jacob Pizzarro was the given name of Camille Pissarro, a master of the 19th century’s Impressionism movement that valued color over lines and contours. His life is brilliantly imagined in The Marriage of Opposites, and Hoffman, to great effect, tells much of the story through his mother’s eyes.”
—StarTribune, Read full review
“If you read one book this August, make it The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman.”
—BookMama, Read full review
“Hoffman is the prolific Boston-based magical realist, whose stories fittingly play to the notion that love—both romantic and platonic—represents a mystical meeting of perfectly paired souls.”
—Vogue, Read full review
“The Marriage of Opposites (Simon & Schuster) by Alice Hoffman (The Dovekeepers), set in 19th century St. Thomas and Paris, is the story of a young woman who is swept into a scandalous affair — and becomes the mother of impressionist painter Camille Pissarro.”
—Tampa Bay Times, notable portraits of the artists
“Hoffman’s fans and those of historical fiction in general will savor The Marriage of Opposites, a vividly rendered account of how one woman’s refusal to deny true love ultimately helped lead to an artistic revolution. When Camille first realizes his talent, he feels as if he has “come upon the core of the meaning of life, to discover and re-create beauty.” While he created with paint and brush, Hoffman’s medium is words. The Marriage of Opposites is a story as sublime as an Impressionist painting.”
—Shelf Awareness, Read full review
“A ghost wife, a stolen child, wandering eyes, hidden ledgers — and more — bind the 19th-century Jewish community on a paradisiacal island in the West Indies.To this marvelous mise-en-scène, Hoffman (The Museum of Extraordinary Things, 2014, etc.) adds a historical character: Rachel Manzana Pomié, the Creole mother of impressionist painter Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro… Lilting prose, beautifully meted out folklore and historical references, and Hoffman’s deep conviction in her characters (especially those “willing to do anything for love”) make reading this “contes du temps passé” a total pleasure.”
—Kirkus starred review
“Of course, Hoffman herself is an artist, rendering each setting with sumptuous and incandescent detail and capturing every shade and hue of suffering and bliss. As witty as she is lyrical, she writes ricocheting dialogue. This rhapsodic blend of keenly observed historical elements and vibrantly fabulistic invention generates an entrancing saga of sacrifice, forbidden loves, betrayals, and family tragedies endured in a world fractured by religion, class, and race, and redeemed by art and by love. Hoffman is at her resplendent best in this trenchant and revelatory tale of a heroic woman and her world-altering artist son.”