Wednesday, August 5, 2015

ARC Review: The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Title: The Marriage of Opposites
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date Published: August 4th, 2015
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Author's Website
Rating: 3.5 stars

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, Fr├ęderick, 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.

My Review

Before reading The Marriage of Opposites, I had only read Alice's Young Adult and Middle Grade releases. ( I know, I know. Sue me. I do love the Practical Magic movie, really need to read that one.) And what I've now seen of her adult fiction isn't any different in it's intensely and beautifully descriptive prose.

What I love about her writing is that I feel totally immersed in the world she's created when I'm reading it. I felt the heat of St. Thomas and the grass beneath my feet with her and Jestine as they frolicked in the meadow, the safe and warmth she felt when learning in her father's library. I really felt that one night in the rain.

Now we get to the complicated part.

 As we grow up, we obviously change and develop as a person, in our thinking and experiences etc. When Rachel's younger, she completely disagrees with her mother's views on what "women SHOULD be doing". She defies her mother at every turn. I supported her in that because I agree, obviously, that women can do whatever they want. Even after her marriage and her first husband's death, she continues to fight for those she loves and defies the congregation for it.(They shunned Rachel and her family) I supported her in that too because her first marriage wasn't one out of love, and they aren't related so what's the problem? And I know things are actually not so clean cut, especially in that time, but it pretty much boils down to that. I mean, just cause y'all are stuck in your loveless marriages doesn't mean y'all have ruin other people's lives.

BUT. After many years of being a free spirit, while also at times doing what she thinks she has to do, Rachel becomes a HUGE HYPOCRITE. It all started when her son Camille, yes the artist this whole story is kinda actually a little bit about, starts drawing at the young age of elementary. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just leave at that, but after that fateful time, Rachel pretty much criticizes and gets mad at Camille for pretty much the exact things that she did. The sad part is, she kind of knows what she's doing. She knows she's turned at least a little into her mother and it hurts and that lets me sympathize with her, but things don't change until a long time has passed.

The moral of the story is kids: Sooner or later, we all turn into our parents. (At least in some ways.)

And just be aware of yourselves if you don't want to be like them.

PS. One more thing, Alice's descriptions of Camille's artworks are gorgeous 00

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