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A special thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
I fell in love with the synopsis the moment I read it, but since I didn’t finish The Museum of Extraordinary Things, I was concerned that I’d be disappointed. I almost didn’t request the ARC, but I’m so glad that I did. I loved everything about this novel!
Here’s a brief summary of the novel and none of it is a spoiler. This novel takes place on St. Thomas and Paris in the early 1800’s. It follows the life of Rachel, the woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro, and the struggles she faced growing up on St. Thomas. It’s part romance, part historical fiction and rich in culture and island superstitions. Rachel’s father marries her off to his business partner, who is a widow with three children, as a way to save his business. When her husband dies suddenly, his Parisian nephew Frederick is left in charge of his estate. He arrives from Paris to settle the estate and falls in love with Rachel. This is where the scandal begins since Frederick is her nephew by marriage and the island sees their relationship as improper. Camille enters the novel a little bit later with his own obstacles and adventures as he fights for a career as an artist. The ending is very appropriate, so you won’t be disappointed.
It’s a captivating story with vivid, unforgettable characters. I got completely lost in their lives and I wanted to be there. I loved the descriptions of life on the island as it sounded so scenic and of course life in Paris sounded wonderful. The island food sounded delicious! I wish I had the recipe for a few of the meals they routinely ate. Some of the characters are strong and opinionated, but the novel is written so eloquently that you won’t hate any of the characters.
The writing is so smooth and beautiful that you feel like you’re hearing the characters thoughts instead of feeling like you’re reading a novel. The Marriage of Opposites has turned me into a new Alice Hoffman fan. I highly recommend this book, especially to fans of historical fiction.