St. Thomas with The Marriage of Opposites

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“I kept the book of fairy tales close to my heart, the cover flaming blue. That would keep me warm until at last I reached the place where I belonged.”–Rachel Pomie Petit Pizzarro, The Marriage of Opposites

  • Here’s what happens:
    • Rachel, the primary narrator and protagonist of this colorful story, is as wild and unruly as the island of St. Thomas that she calls home. Her days are spent reading fairy tales and dreaming of the day she’ll escape the island that’s been refuge to her family and a community of Jewish refugees and start a life of her own in Paris. However, the fate of a woman in the early 1800’s is rarely her own decision, and Rachel is married off to save her father’s troubled business. Though she never loses hope of her girlhood fantasies, she begins to understand that her life will unfold in ways even a smart girl like her never expected–including giving birth to one of the world’s most famous artists, Camille Pissarro.
  • It’s good because:
    • Rachel is the kind of smart, brave, pain-in-the-ass heroine that I just love, in the vein of Little Women‘s Jo or (my all-time favorite) Gone with the Wind‘s Scarlett. And, St. Thomas provides the exotic setting, full of magic, disaster and lore, that I find so interesting. Basically, it’s the perfect combination of strong, complicated characters and a rich, dynamic place for the plot to play out.
  • Read if:
    • I’ve always suspected Alice Hoffman would be the type of writer I’d love. I’ve mentioned a few times my adoration for magical realism, and she’s one of the contemporary forerunners in the genre. I read The Dovekeepers for my last reading challenge, however, and really struggled with it. This book was my second chance, and I’m thankful for it. I’m excited to read The Museum of Extraordinary Things soon, because I’m certainly a fan of Hoffman’s now!

Up next: Haiti with A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez!

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