The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

The first time I ever heard of Alice Hoffman I was looking at a copy of The Museum of Extraordinary Things. It looked really interesting and I absolutely love historical works of fiction. I actually ended up reading The Probable Future before I read the other book and ever since then I have been hooked. There is just something about Hoffman’s way with words that makes the story come off the page. It’s like Hoffman has her own form of magic ;). Her words are lyrical, inviting and come so easily to the tongue that putting them all together creates a wonderful story that one never wants to put down.

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I actually did not know this story was going to about French artist Pissarro’s parents until I read the name Pissarro and started putting two and two together. I thought this just a historical work of fiction about two worlds clashing, however I was pleasantly surprised. My favorite class I ever took in college was an Art History course and if I wasn’t so dead set on becoming a teacher I would have chosen some degree in the art appreciation field. I remember studying Pissarro but he didn’t stick like some of the other artists such as CĂ©zanne, Monet, Manet, or Degas.

I wasn’t sure where this story was headed and I appreciated that it covered most if not all of Rachel Pissarro’s life and that of her closest friend. There were plenty of love triangles and hidden family connections to keep me reading until I fully understood what was happening. It truly is the story of the marriage of opposites and how they made it work despite all the forces working against them. Rachel is the strong woman heroine that everyone wants to read about. She cared what people thought but she honestly cared more about her own personal happiness considering that it had been taken too often from her and those she cared deeply about. This isn’t only the story about a marriage it’s the story of a woman learning to love herself after growing up with a loveless mother. It’s the story of a woman taking control of her own life after being married for business purposes. It’s the story of a mother learning to let go of her favorite son. It’s the story of families reconnecting across oceans and old secrets being put to rest.

If this story had been told by any other author I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. Hoffman has a way of bringing a story to life and making you emotionally invested in characters you may or may not like. It’s the kind of story that makes you find a quite corner so you can read for hours uninterrupted.

-A

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