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The Marriage of Opposites Hardcover – August 4, 2015
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“Lilting prose, beautifully meted out folklore and historical references, and Hoffman's deep conviction in her characters (especially those "willing to do anything for love") make reading this "contes du temps passé" a total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
"[A] 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."
– Booklist, Starred Review
"Hoffman’s subject matter and her evocative writing style are a wonderful fit for this moving story, which illuminates a historical period and women whose lives were colored by hardships, upheavals, and the subjugation of personal desires."
“[A] luminous, Marquez-esque tale.”
— O, The Oprah Magazine
“A fresh tale of human error and achievement. This subject has found the right author at the right time, and no one who reads this story will forget it.”
“Hoffman’s lush, seductive prose and heart-pounding subject—a forbidden love affair on the island of Saint Thomas—make this latest skinny-dip in enchanted realism by the author of Practical Magic the Platonic ideal of the beach read.”
"Hoffman mixes fact and fiction to produce a richly imagined tapestry shot through with her signature blend of folklore, fairy dust and romantic passion."
- The Washington Post
·“For readers who would go anywhere Hoffman willtake you, this Marriage will only renew your commitment to herastonishing storytelling.”
“Rich with details that transport readers to a tropical paradise. The Marriage of Opposites invites comparisons to Gabriel García Marquez, but Hoffman follows her own star… Hoffman elevates what could have been little more than a summer getaway book to a work of art.”
-Dallas Morning News
About the Author
Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Rules of Magic, 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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Top Customer Reviews
The book begins when Rachel is a little girl in St. Thomas (early 19th c.). The island with its heat, vivid flora and fauna, and multi-cultural history becomes a main character in the book. She wraps us up in elaborate folktales and religious and cultural background. Most residents speak several languages, including French and Danish. There are still slaves on the island, which is a Danish colony. Rachel’s family is Jewish, so they have their own strict guidelines for behavior and ritual, and Rachel isn’t inclined to accept the rules of others. Yes, there’s plenty of conflict, scandal, and hidden secrets.
When Camille is old enough to become interested in art, he shows he inherited his mother’s rebellious nature. The novel shifts toward him as the main character about halfway through the book. Some of the narrative takes place in Paris.
The beginning of Chapter 11, set in 1855, the buildup to the Civil War, chilled me: “There was trouble brewing in America, a lawlessness that sometimes portends war.”
The focus of the book muddled, a shotgun approach scattered about from one target to another. Perhaps the narration doesn't help. Multiple narrators can be problematic rather than enlightening. Rachel (an analyst's dream) is complex, difficult, and fascinating. She's fleshed out well but I'd have liked more about how, in the end, she refused to ever acknowledge her son's marriage. It's ironic that she does not. Camille is not developed nearly as well; I expected more. Other characters, too, are interesting but puzzles with missing pieces. I wonder if I'd enjoyed this more if Hoffman had either lengthened the story to make these characters more robust or left them out and concentrated more on just a few. Perhaps it's an organizational issue. Some characters would be introduced and then appear intermittently. I felt a bit teased getting into one character and then being switched to another.
When I finished the book I felt as though I'd had a disappointing meal in a restaurant heralded for much more. Not quite enough seasoning on the dishes, smaller portions of things I enjoyed, and too large portions of things I did not.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good for discussions of parent/child relationships, cultures and history.