The Marriage of Opposites

“The Marriage of Opposites”,  is an excellent title, I think.  I had this book renewed by the library, but today is the day when it finally needs to be returned. The weeks vanish so quickly. I cannot believe,  I’ve had this book for so many weeks. I just remembered, that I had intended to make a note about the different chapters in that book.

Chapter One starts in 1807. It is set in Charlotte Amalie, on the island of St. Thomas, and Rachel Pomie is the narrator. This Rachel did strike me straight away as a very interesting woman. Her relationship with her mother and father in her childhood reminds me a bit about the relationship that I used to have with my parents. I reckon, there are some similarities, but the outward circumstances are totally different to the way I grew up, namely I grew up in a very different place and in a very different time. Due to WW Two and the separation of my parents after the war, I saw my father overall not very often, whereas Rachel’s father always lived with the family . . . .  Rachel is not at all the way her mother would like her daughter to be. Girlish things do not interest her at all, but she loves her father’s books and his conversations. Rachel’s father treats her as an intelligent person. This is how she becomes a fairly well educated woman.

The last chapter in the book, CHAPTER ELEVEN, starts in 1855. It is again set in Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas, and again Rachel by the name of Rachel Pomie Petit Pizarro is the narrator. 1855 is the year when she is determined to go to Paris to live there for the rest of her life. She goes on the sea voyage together with Jestine, her longtime friend from the islands who wants to join her daughter in Paris whom she has not seen since she had been kidnapped as a child. Rachel’s husband was going to come to Paris soon after. He first had to close up their business on the island.

Rachel soon feels very much at home in Paris. She goes on narrating her story in 1863. Alice Hoffman fictionalized the life of Rachel. But all the dates and instances are based on the life of Rachel Monsanto Pomie Petit Pizarro, who died in Paris in 1889 at the age of ninety-four. One of her sons was Camille Pissaro, the artist.

Here now I made some notes about the dates and various narrators in the CHAPTERS TWO to TEN of “The Marriage of Opposites”:

Chapter Two, 1818 Rachel (narrator)

Three, 1823 Rachel (narrator)

Four, 1824 Rachel (narrator)

Five, 1825 Abraham Gabriel Frederic Pizarro (narrator)

Six, 1826 Rachel (narrator)

Seven, 1841 Jacobo Camille Pizzarro (narrator)

Eight, Paris 1847 Lydia Cassin Rodrigues Cohen (narrator)

Nine, St. Thomas 1848 Jacobo Camille Pizzarro (narrator)

Ten, St. Thomas 1855 Camille Pizzarro (narrator)

During most of the book, Rachel is the narrator. The other narrators are the artist, Jacobo Camille (Rachel’s son), Frederic Pizzarro (her second husband) and Lydia, the daughter of Rachel’s friend Jestine, who had been kidnapped from Charlotte Amalie  as a child and taken to Paris. When Jestine sees her daughter finally in Paris some twenty years later, the daughter is already married with three beautiful daughters!

Rachel had two marriages, a lot of children (many died early). She did  like very much  to spend time with her grand-children.


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