The Marriage of Opposites
I have loved Alice Hoffman’s books for years, and The Marriage of Opposites didn’t entirely disappoint. Her portrayal of setting is exquisite – in this case, St. Thomas in the first half of the 1800’s, then Paris. Her imagery is vivid, and her research through. I have no doubt but that the historical detail offered in The Marriage of Opposites is accurate.
Truly, though, I learned more about the scenery that may have inspired the artist, Camille Pizzarro, than about the artist himself – or any of the other characters, for that matter. The story seemed to float along on a beautiful surface without ever quite dipping beneath. I felt that the author told me her story, rather than letting me live it myself. The characters felt flat and two-dimensional. I never truly got inside them.
And then, when the artist’s mother, Rachel, whose voice is the most prominent in the book, grew unreasonably bitter, the charm I usually feel while reading Hoffman’s books was lost. Even the magical elements in this book felt superimposed.
That said, I deeply admire Alice Hoffman as a writer. This book may not have resonated with me, but so many of her other books have that I will buy her again without doubt.