Charlotte Amalie

THE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITES BY ALICE HOFFMAN

All the following pieces are copies from various Google articles.
In this book with the title “Marriage of Opposites” Alice Hoffman says in her afterword, that Rachel Pizzarro’s life in her imagined story mirrors the known facts about Rachel as closely as possible.
I reckon it is very rewarding to find out more about the historical background of the book’s characters by googling for some more information. Right in the beginning of Hoffman’s book Rachel says that she rarely did as she was told. Out of all the numerous children that Rachel had, Jacobo Camille, the artist, is by far the most interesting. I would say this novel is extremely well written and that it is based on historical facts makes it all the more interesting.

The story is set on the Island of St. Thomas and in Paris. Charlotte Amalie is the place where Rachel and her family lived. Here are some facts about Charlotte Amalie:

“Charlotte Amalie (/ˈʃɑːrlət əˈmɑːljə/ or /-ˈæməliː/), located on St. Thomas, is the capital and largest city of the U.S. Virgin Islands, founded in 1666 as Taphus (meaning “beer houses” or “beer halls”[1]). In 1691, the town was renamed to Amalienborg (in English Charlotte Amalie) after Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel (1650–1714), queen consort to King Christian V of Denmark. It has a deep-water harbor that was once a haven for pirates and is now one of the busiest ports of call for cruise ships in the Caribbean, with about 1.5 million cruise ship passengers landing there in 2004. Protected by Hassel Island, the harbor has docking and fueling facilities, machine shops, and shipyards and was a U.S. submarine base until 1966. The town has been inhabited for centuries. When Christopher Columbus came here in 1493, the area was inhabited by Island Caribs and Taíno. It is on the southern shore at the head of Saint Thomas Harbor. In 2010 the city had a population of 18,481,[2][3] which makes it the largest city in the Virgin Islands Archipelago. Hundreds of ferries and yachts pass through town each week, and at times the population more than doubles.
The city is known for its Danish colonial architecture, building structure and history, and a dozen streets and places throughout the city have Danish names. Charlotte Amalie has buildings of historical importance including St. Thomas Synagogue, the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere,[4] and the oldest Lutheran church in the Western Hemisphere, the Frederick Lutheran Church. The town has a long history of pirates, especially stories of Bluebeard and Blackbeard (Edward Teach). In the 17th century, the Danes built both Blackbeard’s Castle and Bluebeard’s Castle attributed to the pirates. Blackbeard’s Castle is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Another tourist attraction is Fort Christian, the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands Archipelago. A copy of the Liberty Bell is in Emancipation Park, which is a tourist attraction.

The city was named Charlotte Amalie in honor of Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel in 1691”

I also found the following about THE DANISH WEST INDIES:

“The Danish West Indies (Danish: Dansk Vestindien) or Danish Antilles was a Danish colony in the Caribbean, consisting of the islands of Saint Thomas with 43 square miles (110 km2); Saint John with 42 square miles (110 km2); and Saint Croix with 100 square miles (260 km2). The Danish West India Guinea Company annexed the uninhabited island of Saint Thomas in 1672 and St. John in 1675. In 1733, Saint Croix was purchased from the French West India Company. When the Company went bankrupt in 1755, the King of Denmark-Norway assumed direct control of the three islands. The Danish West Indies was occupied by Britain in 1802–1803 and 1807–1815, during the Napoleonic Wars.
The intention of Danish colonization in the West Indies was to exploit the profitable triangular trade, involving the exportation of firearms and other manufactured goods to Africa in exchange for slaves who were then transported to the Caribbean to staff the sugar plantations. The final stage of the triangle was the exportation of cargo of sugar and rum to Denmark. The economy of the Danish West Indies was dependent on slavery. After a rebellion, slavery was officially abolished in 1848, leading to the near economic collapse of the plantations.
In 1852, the sale of the increasingly unprofitable colony was first debated in the Danish parliament. Denmark tried several times to sell or exchange the Danish West Indies in the late 19th and early 19th century, to the United States and the German Empire respectively. The islands were eventually sold for 25 million dollars to the United States, which took over the administration on 31 March 1917, renaming the islands the United States Virgin Islands.”

The Synagogue on the Island of Saint Thomas is mentioned frequently in Hoffman’s novel. Here is some more background about this synagogue:

“Saint Thomas Synagogue was built in 1833, and is the second-oldest synagogue on United States soil (after the 1763 Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island). It also has the longest history of continuous use by a Jewish congregation in the nation. It was built for a congregation founded in 1796 by Sephardic Jews who had come to the Caribbean Basin to finance trade between Europe and the New World.[1]
Features[edit]

The synagogue as a number of distinctive and unique features. Most of the wooden features including the benches, the ark and the bimah are made from mahogany. The menorah dates back to the 11th century and is Spanish in origin. The chandeliers are European and are presumed Dutch. There are four pillars inside representing Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca and Leah, the four matriarchs of the Jewish people. But by far the most unusual feature of the synagogue is the sand floor. There are two theories behind this unusual occurrence. One is to represent the Israelite journey through the desert. Another theory is that it represents the Conversos who were forced to convert to Catholicism. Many continued to observe Judaism, so they usually met in their cellars and would use sand to muffle their prayers.
The congregation is affiliated with the Reform Jewish movement and the rabbi is a graduate of Hebrew Union College.

Here now a synopsis written I think by Tom Morrison:
ALICE HOFFMAN
“The Marriage of Opposites”

“Growing up on the idyllic island of St Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of faraway Paris.
Her mother, a pillar of their tight-knit refugee community of Jews who escaped the European Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for refusing to live by the rules.
But Rachel’s fate is not in her own hands: in order to secure the future of her father’s business, she is married off to a widower with three children.
When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome nephew Frederic arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes control of her life, beginning a passionate love affair that sparks a scandal affecting her entire family, including her favourite son, Camille Pissarro, who will one day become a founder member of the Impressionists and one of history’s greatest artists.

Set in a world of lush, exquisite beauty, THE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITES shows Alive Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. The marriage of Rachel and Frederic is an unforgettable story of an extraordinary women and her forbidden love, from the internationally bestselling author of THE DOVEKEEPERS.”

Beautiful, harrowing . . .
A major contribution to twenty-first-century literature’
Tom Morrison, for The Dovekeepers

Jodi Picoult says: “Hoffman reminds us with every sentence that words have the power to transport us to alternate worlds, to heal a broken heart, and to tie us irrevocably to the people we love.”

http://alicehoffman.com/books/the-marriage-of-opposites/synopsis/

Alice Hoffman’s compelling tale of the artist Camille Pissarro and his mother

By Wendy Smith August 4, 2015

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/alice-hoffmans-compelling-tale-of-the-artist-camille-pissarro-and-his-mother/2015/08/04/86534d92-37fa-11e5-9739-170df8af8eb9_story.html

Childhood Memories

I publish here a copy of something I had published already in May 2013. I did get some very interesting comments to this post at the time. So I copied all the comments and my replies as well. Some of my new blogger friends might want to have a look at it and maybe some of my older blogger friends also would like to have another look. 🙂

This now is what I published in May 2013:

‘I have now two pages about my childhood. One is just “Uta’s Early Childhood”, the other one is “Uta’s Early Childhood, Part II”. In the Part II I inserted today some pictures about my sixth birthday in 1940 plus one picture from summer of 1942. All these pictures were taken during the war, World War II that is, when we lived in Berlin, Germany.

Did we suffer during the first years of war? I don’t think so. Except that my father had moved away from Berlin. He became the manager in grandfather’s furniture factory in Lodz, Poland, which since the German occupation in 1939 was called Litzmannstadt. My father had grown up in Lodz. His family had lived in Lodz since the early 1800s, when this part of Poland belonged to Russia.

My father had studied in Leipzig, Germany. In 1930 he had married my mother in Leipzig. During the early years of their marriage they had for the most part lived in Berlin. Sometime during the early war years my father had some disagreements with some Nazi people he worked with in Berlin. I think he didn’t voice his disagreements publicly. Had he done so, he may have ended up in a concentration camp!

In the end he was allowed to remove himself from Berlin. As I said he became then the manager in grandfather’s factory. My mother typically chose to stay with us children in Berlin. We only went for some visits to “Litzmannstadt”.’

Submitted on 2014/10/15 at 9:49 am | In reply to auntyuta.
Just now I did re-read this whole post and all the comments. As Peter says, between “Will” and “Reason”, “Will” will always win. I think this is because most people will their emotions let their thinking rule. Well, this is the way it is, this is what humans are like.

To come back to how children experienced the Nazi area in Germany, one book, that deals with this, comes to mind. I read it only recently. It is set in a small place near Munich in southern Germany. I lived near Berlin and in Leipzig during the last years of the war. So I have no experience what life was like for children in Bavaria during these war years in Nazi time. However what Markus Zusak tells us in his historical novel THE BOOK THIEF sounds absolutely believable to me.

In the next comment section I post some details about the book from Wikipedia.

auntyuta
auntyuta.wordpress.com
utahannemann@hotmail.com
14.200.207.145
Submitted on 2014/10/15 at 9:30 am
THE BOOK THIEF

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the novel. For the film adaptation, see The Book Thief (film).
The Book Thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak book cover.jpg
1st Edition front cover
Illustrator Trudy White
Cover artist Colin Anderson/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Country Germany
Language English, German
Genre Novel-Historical Fiction
Publisher Picador, Australia; Knopf, US
Publication date
2005(Australia); 14 March 2006 (worldwide)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 550

The Book Thief is a novel by Australian author Markus Zusak.[1] Narrated by Death, the book is set in Nazi Germany, a place and time when the narrator notes he was extremely busy. It describes a young girl’s relationship with her foster parents, the other residents of their neighborhood, and a young Jewish man who hides in her home during the escalation of World War II. First published in 2005, the book has won numerous awards and was listed on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks.[2]

berlioz1935
berlioz1935.wordpress.com
berlioz1935@gmail.com
14.200.207.145
Submitted on 2013/05/21 at 11:05 am | In reply to Robert M. Weiss.
Robert, you are spot on with your overall view of history. I always say, that the 2. WW was a continuation of WW I as it was finished in an unsatisfactory way. Meaning, nobody was thinking about the future. Versailles was a disaster. A much better solution was found at the end of WW II. The Germans, at the end of WW I, were hoping that Wilson’s 14 Points would be adhered to.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_Points

As a result “The humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles”, as you say, let to the rise of Hitler.

You say further “By borrowing heavily from German mythology, Wagner, the concept of the ubermensch, Hitler instilled in the young a burning pride in Germany’s future. Hitler was also influenced by Schopenhauer’s “Will to Power”. This idea is the subject of a book. “The Jew of Linz” by Australian writer Kimberly Cornish

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jew_of_Linz.

Cornish has been criticised too, but I found it an interesting read on a certain view point of history. Schopenhauer stipulates, that in a contest between “Will” and “Reason”, “Will” will always win.

berlioz1935
berlioz1935.wordpress.com
berlioz1935@gmail.com
14.200.207.145
Submitted on 2013/05/21 at 10:27 am | In reply to The Emu.
The disagreement with the Nazis was on two levels: personal and about the conduct of war.

Personal: When Hitler came to power he joined the party as a “good” public servant would. Later the life style of his wife could have headed for divorce. This was intolerable for the Nazis and they asked him to discipline his wife or he could not remain a member of the party.

Contact of War: After the Sportpalast Speech

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sportpalast_speech

in which Goebels called for “Total War” to be waged. Uta’s father was of the opinion that it was pure propaganda. As an economist he could see that many mistakes were made and the German industry and population were not put on a war footing. He criticised the use of forced labour and called for the utilisation of German women in industry. Only 33% of women were working. Working women was an anathema for Hitler.

He wrote a Memorandum to Hitler and for his effort was hauled in front of Martin Bormann, secretary of Hitler, who advised him not to insist on sending the Memorandum to Hitler. Instead they sent him to the “Ostfront” because he was a Russian speaker.

This is the stuff novels are written about. A lot of what we know is only bits and pieces. Adults did not talk to children about it. Later, yes, but not all came to light.

auntyuta
auntyuta.wordpress.com
utahannemann@hotmail.com
14.200.207.145
Submitted on 2013/05/21 at 7:59 am
Thanks for this very insightful reply, Robert.

” . . . . nationalism has been responsible for many wars.” This is a known fact. Still, leaders don’t want to learn from this and continue to promote it.
Will there ever be a time when mankind can live in peace without any wars?
Maybe if there’s an outside threat we’ll then be acknowledging our common humanity.

So he marched to the death camp with his children . . . . . I wonder how many children were with him.

Is it that the Nazis rigorously went to eliminate everything that seemed foreign to them?Do a lot of people to this day have an innate fear about this what doesn’t fit into their view of the world?

I think not many people are interested in understanding the historical process. They are just interested in how they see their own little world, which is an island surrounded by things that frighten them. Does this lead to fundamentalism? Can fundamentalists live peacefully together with non-fundamentalists or other fundamentalists? If they don’t want peace, what do you do? Eliminate them? Every religion teaches you not to kill unless you are attacked. So for instance Talibans want to kill us. So we are allowed to kill them. Aren’t we? No objections to killing Talibans. Too bad if a few other people get killed along the way. And so it goes. No wonder I need prayers to stay sane. Because the historical process goes on whether I like it or not.

Robert M. Weiss
river4827.wordpress.com
forestbreeze40@earthlink.net
70.197.68.149
Submitted on 2013/05/21 at 3:00 am
Janusz Korczak was offered an opportunity to escape from Poland, but he did not take it. Instead, in 1942, he marched with his orphan children to the death camp of Treblinka…. No doubt people in great psychological need follow cults, and often utilize unhealthy coping mechanisms. What happens with countries brings matters to a larger scale, and nationalism has been responsible for many wars. The humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles, the rampant unemployment, and other factors went into the cauldron of Nazi Germany. Hitler’s genius was to work with the young people, and gain their support in actively supporting the Third Reich and its goals. By borrowing heavily from German mythology, Wagner, the concept of the ubermensch, Hitler instilled in the young a burning pride in Germany’s future. Hitler was also influenced by Schopenhauer’s “Will to Power”, the incendiary speeches of Bismarck, and the methods of American advertising… History is composed of a series of reactions and counter reactions. Perhaps one day we will succeed in isolating the variables responsible for the vagaries of history, and gain a more precise understanding of the historical process.

catterel
catterel.wordpress.com
catherine.sommer@bluewin.ch
86.168.203.38
Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 9:02 pm | In reply to auntyuta.
HiI Uta – yes, no, yes. I’m writing a memoir that gets added to sporadically, but haven’t published many old photos from that time. Maybe I should!

auntyuta
auntyuta.wordpress.com
utahannemann@hotmail.com
14.200.207.145
Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 3:10 pm | In reply to The Emu.
“The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the American program to aid Europe, in which the United States gave economic support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to prevent the spread of Soviet Communism. . . .”
Ian, this recovery program helped Germany enormously after WW II. Whereas what happened after WW I was a terrible disaster for Germany. The result was that the Nazis came to power!
The disagreements my father had with the Nazis had to do with the war. But sorry, I cannot recall properly what my father said about it. Anyhow the way I remember it, my father was objecting to the way the war was conducted. I think he moved to “Litzmannstadt” towards the end of 1940. This for instance would have been long before Pearl Harbour!
For a great part of 1941 we stayed with the grandparents in Poland.
By August 1941 we were back in our apartment in Berlin (without my father of course). In September 1941 I started school. I was then aged seven already! My second brother was born in October 1941.
My first school reports say my father’s occupation was “Betriebsführer” (Manager).
He was born in 1904. During the first war years he was regarded as being too old to be conscripted. But by 1943 his year, that is men having been born in 1904, were being called up for military duties. After some training my father was made straight away to be an officer. He was sent to the Eastern front.
He came back from the war with his health ruined. For many years after the war he suffered from these health problems without getting any support from my mother I might say. But his sisters and the sisters families as well as his mother who were all refugees from Poland, well everyone in his extended family supported him to the best of their ability. Eventually he did recover and was able to get full employment. At about 1949 my mother got a divorce from him. In the 1950s when he was gainfully employed again and his health had improved a lot, he asked my mother to marry him again. She refused.
He married his secretary in 1959. In 1966 he died of prostate cancer.

The Emu
aussieemu.wordpress.com
ian.anafelton@gmail.com
121.219.179.19
Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 11:37 am
Very interesting Auntyuta, to read of your background in those years, virtually a first hand account and must be recorded and handed down into your family and put into book form.
It intrigues me as to the disagreement your father had with the Nazi;s, maybe you could elaborate on this Auntyuta.
A great historical reading.
Emu aka Ian

auntyuta
auntyuta.wordpress.com
utahannemann@hotmail.com
14.200.207.145
Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 7:58 am | In reply to catterel.
Hi Cat, do you write a lot about your early childhood and do you have pictures of that time published? Do you find you cannot disclose too much about people who are still alive? It’s great for your kids to be told by you what life was like in the 1940’s and 50’s.

auntyuta
auntyuta.wordpress.com
utahannemann@hotmail.com
14.200.207.145
Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 7:46 am | In reply to Robert M. Weiss.
Hi, Robert, I have the feeling what you say about Hitler may be absolutely right. My generation (after all I was only a child during the Hitler years) on the whole has learned not to trust people like this.
Aren’t there certain people around in certain countries who somehow are able to get followers when clearly if they only started thinking a bit for themselves maybe they couldn’t be followers? Sadly people in general go more by their feelings and what’s in it for them rather than thinking about the consequences of their support. Aren’t most people selfish? If something is promised that advances them they go for it, don’t they?
I guess Janusz Korczak was a remarkable educator, right? I think you mentioned him in one of your blogs. But I can’t recall any details. Did he for instance survive the war years? Did he have family? It is of course admirable if people stand up for what they believe in.
The best example where protests by a lot of people resulted in an immense change happened in the Eastern part of Germany. The fall of the Iron Curtain, which for years and years looked rather impossible, all of a sudden was possible in a rather peaceful way. That it went ahead peacefully was thanks to some noble people who restrained themselves from interfering.
War and Peace, War and Peace, maybe this is the fate of mankind for ever and ever. Didn’t Orwell say, some people when they say peace mean war? Our previous Primeminister Keating here in Australia used to fight a lot in parliament. His attitude was it was better to fight in parliament rather than attack each other in the street.

Robert M. Weiss
river4827.wordpress.com
forestbreeze40@earthlink.net
70.197.70.2
Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 2:24 am
Many people at that time didn’t voice their opinions openly. Janusz Korczak, the Polish educator, did. He walked through the streets of Warsaw wearing his Polish army uniform, and was put in jail for his efforts… I continue to be amazed how the Germans could have supported such a madman as Adolf Hitler, which he clearly was. He misused Darwinism, Nietzsche, and never followed his main tenet: to produce children for the Fatherland. Perhaps he knew that that he was the most misbegotten cross and handicapped person of them all.

catterel
catterel.wordpress.com
catherine.sommer@bluewin.ch
86.166.198.202
Submitted on 2013/05/20 at 12:10 am
Yes, do please write about your childhood. It was so different then, and personal memories make it come alive for our children and grandchildren. My early life in England (1940’s and 50’s) seems like tales from a distant planet when I reminisce to the kids!

auntyuta
auntyuta.wordpress.com
utahannemann@hotmail.com
14.200.207.145
Submitted on 2013/05/19 at 4:36 pm
Hi Diana, thanks for the comment and welcome to my blogging. I read your about page and am interested in what happened to you when you turned forty. I remember, a long time ago when I turned forty my life seems to have undergone some kind of a change.
A lot of the subjects you write about look very interesting to me. I want to do some reading of your blogs pretty soon.
Cheerio, Aunty Uta.

Holistic Wayfarer
aholisticjourney.wordpress.com
dipumpkin@gmail.com
76.232.196.192
Submitted on 2013/05/19 at 1:51 pm
Keep writing. That was a fascinating era — and we are just so comfortable these days. We don’t appreciate what our parents and grandparents endured to sustain the basic things we take for granted.