Thursday, February 11, 2016

Audio Book Review: The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman book cover and review
As is often the case with the audiobooks I choose, I enjoyed The Marriage of Opposites but if I were reading a paper copy I wouldn't have made it through.

It's an interesting story and based on true characters. In the early 1800s, Rachel and her parents have escaped the Jewish inquisition and fled to the island of St. Thomas. There is a substantial Jewish community on the island as well as the native population and the slaves the Jewish people brought with them. Rachel ends up giving birth to the famous painter Camille Pissarro, the father of impressionism, but The Marriage of Opposites is very much Rachel's story.

Rachel is forced to marry an older widow for the sake of the family business. When this man dies, his nephew, Frederick, arrives from France to settle the financial matters and run the business. Frederick and Rachel fall in love and even though the Jewish religion won't allow their marriage, they live together and begin a family. This scandal is one of the biggest dramas of the story.

Rachel also has a friend, Jestine, who is their housekeeper's daughter. Jestine provides more drama as she gives birth out of wedlock, and the child is stolen by the father. I don't want to say too much more about that.

Rachel doesn't want Camille to be an artist. They want him to be a part of the family business. Various people go in and out of Rachel's and Camille's lives and add interest, but I found the story to be very meandering. Hoffman, however is a great writer, and the narrators were very good so I never wanted to abandon the story.

But when you look back on it, not that much happened. I've listened to The Dovekeepers also and thought that was a much more exciting story.

While The Marriage of Opposites was an interesting story, it just wasn't very exciting and moved a bit slowly for me.

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2015
Copy obtained from the library
384 pages

Rating: 3/5

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