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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ex-library book. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting.
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The Marriage of Opposites Hardcover – August 4, 2015

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,477 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Lilting prose, beautifully meted out folklore and historical references, and Hoffman's deep conviction in her characters (especially those "willing to do anything for love") make reading this "contes du temps passé" a total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."
Publishers Weekly

“[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.”
Book Page

“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.”
– Slate.com

"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.”
-USA Today

“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 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1St Edition edition (August 4, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451693591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451693591
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,477 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By knittingmom VINE VOICE on June 11, 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman is a beautifully atmospheric work of historical fiction set in the 19th century on the tropical island of St. Thomas where the reader learns about the life of Rachel Pomie, who later becomes known as the mother of the famous painter Camille Pissarro, the father of Impressionism, and while I would have delighted in reading a book entirely about Pissarro’s life, his mother’s life is extraordinarily intriguing. I went into The Marriage of Opposites with knowledge of the Father of Impressionism, however I knew absolutely nothing about his mother and here Hoffman shines in her exceptional account of Rachel’s life from childhood through her adulthood, from a young girl dreaming of Paris, to an arranged marriage, through widowhood, and finding true love in Frédérick. I was hesitant that this would be a basic love story, a genre I usually do not enjoy, however Hoffman, the fabulous storyteller that she is, weaves together many forms of love into this absolutely fantastic story, pulling on the heartstrings of readers, while making history come alive in what is researched as well as imagined by such a gifted storyteller. Rachel is not an easy character to always like, however, she is one to be understood, like most people she had dreams that in her day and time were not possible and while she pushed the boundaries of convention at that time and place in history, she also knew her place and her duties. I found the telling of the multilayered characters to be exceptional and Hoffman excels at showing the reader through her elegant prose, the many facets of love. I would highly recommend The Marriage of Opposites to anyone who enjoys excellent literary and historical fiction as well as to all book discussion groups.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Marriage of Opposites is an absorbing book that follows the life of Rachel Pomie Petit Pizarro from childhood on the Caribbean Island of St. Thomas through widowhood in Paris, a span of sixty years.

In many ways, this book adheres to the formula established in Dovekeepers and Museum with a Jewish framework, scrupulous historical research, a touch of mysticism, lush images, and impassioned love. My comparisons here will be superficial as I have not read those first two books, having been too easily discouraged by the opening chapters, as I was when I first picked up Marriage.

The book begins with a discussion of mosquitoes, abruptly transitions to an overview of Jewish expulsion, then a description of the island of St. Thomas. I felt overwhelmed, as though I’d fallen into a vat of watercolors, but once I settled into the story, I was duly mesmerized (“mesmerized” being the most common adjective to appear in reviews of Hoffman’s books).

We see the world from the perspective of Rachel, born and raised on St. Thomas, a headstrong girl with profound self-awareness who spends her time battling the constraints imposed by a fierce mother, trying to adapt to a society that requires women to remain in circumscribed roles, and dreaming of Paris. Along the way she marries a couple of times, has a bunch of mostly interchangeable kids (some step, some her own), talks to the spirits, and hangs out with all kinds of intriguing friends.

The most enchanting aspect of this book, at least the first half, is the setting. By page 100, I was ready to book a trip to St. Thomas, a place I’ve never visited, just to see the colors and try the native delicacies.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a pleasant enough novel to read, that will probably please fans of historical romance, but it doesn't really go anywhere. It is a problem that arises, I think, partly from the rather anodyne quality of Alice Hoffman's writing, partly from the lack of focus inherent in her choice of subject: is this a book about an unknown mother or her famous son?

Camille Pissarro, the son in question, was arguably the central figure of the Impressionist movement. He was the only artist to exhibit in all eight group exhibitions, and he served as mentor to many of his younger colleagues. But I am prepared to bet that he is not the first, second, or even third name to spring to mind when most people think of the Impressionists. Just being a great painter does not make him an interesting figure for a novel.

But there are certainly interesting points in his childhood that you can see a novelist wanting to pick up on. He was born in 1830 on St. Thomas, now one of the US Virgin Islands but at that time a Danish possession. His parents were both Jewish, but their marriage was not at first sanctioned by the local synagogue, since his mother was the young widow of her new husband's uncle; as a result, the family was ostracized and Camille (then called Jacobo Pizzarro) and his brothers were sent to the charity school for the local children of color. I can see that the colorful setting and the hint of incest might give spice to the story, but at this remove the scandal seems largely innocuous. Besides, it affects mainly the two parents, whom Hoffman sees as preferring love over social acceptance; it is less a factor in the lives of their offspring.
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