The Marriage of Opposites

The Marriage of Opposites

“[A] luminous, Marquez-esque tale.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things: a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas 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 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.

Building on the triumphs of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, set in a world of almost unimaginable beauty, The Marriage of Opposites showcases the beloved, bestselling Alice Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Frédérick is a story that is as unforgettable as it is remarkable.

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Author Alice Hoffman talks about her newest novel 'The Marriage of Opposites'

From the New York Times bestselling author of 'The Dovekeepers' and 'The Museum of Extraordinary Things' comes 'The Marriage of Opposites', a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro—the Father of Impressionism.

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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things comes a spellbinding tale of forbidden love, family secrets, and unimaginable beauty. Set in St. Thomas in the early 1800s, The Marriage of Opposites follows one of history’s lesser known women: headstrong and rebellious Rachel Pizzarro—the mother of one of Impressionism’s founding artists, Camille Pissarro.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Discuss the title. Which marriage or relationship does “The Marriage of Opposites” refer to? Where in the novel do you first recognize the title’s significance?

2. In Chapter 1, Rachel says, “Perhaps that was what my mother disliked most. I resembled her. I could not help but wonder if for some women, that was the worst sin of all.” Discuss Rachel’s relationship with her mother, her own stepchildren, and female relationships around her. What sort of resemblance does she mean? Compare these relationships with the one Rachel has with her son, Camille.

3. “. . . on this island, strength was a necessity” (page 22). Consider the power dynamics in the novel, from mental strength to willpower, physical strength versus financial dominance. Discuss what is meant when Rachel’s father tells her that her marriage is “a combining of strengths” (page 27). For t see more

More Books from this Author

The Dovekeepers
The Museum of Extraordinary Things
Practical Magic
Wanderlust

About the Author

Alice Hoffman
Deborah Feingold

Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. She lives near Boston.

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