The Marriage of Opposites follows the story of Rachel and her refugee community of Jews on the Island of St. Thomas. The story follows Rachel from her early childhood on the Island with her cousin and best friend Jestine through to her adulthood. It’s in her adulthood where she finds herself through duty to her family until the opportunity comes for her to find love and a life of her own. A life that defies the rules of her strict refugee community.
I went back and forth on whether or not I liked Rachel. There were parts of the story were I found her down right annoying. The world that Rachel lived in revolved around rules ad protocol, keeping people who loved each other from being together and breaking up families. Rachel’s strength and ability to conform when needed to but yet stand up for herself when she could kept me coming back for more. Rachel’s life is just as intriguing as that of her son, Camille Pissarro.
I also became quite interested in Jestine’s story. So much of it was heartbreakingly bitter sweet.
The one thing that did loose me a bit was Rachel’s obsession with the supernatural and her ability to call up and see spirits. I understand that this was most likely what she was like but a good chunk of the aspect of this story just didn’t work for me. Particularly in the beginning. It felt like Hoffman was flirting with an indigenous island belief but I think it probably would have worked better if it was more rooted within actual religious belief. Especially juxtaposed with the traditional Jewish beliefs that Rachel was raised with.
This is the second book by Alice Hoffman that I have read. If you are a fan of hers, I would recommend this. It is very much in line with her style of writing. Overall, I enjoyed the book.