Rachel spends her life dreaming of Paris. She has been raised on the island of St. Thomas. It is the early 1800’s and her adoring father and very strict and cold mother leave her little room to believe she will ever be anything other than a wife and mother, forever on this island, in this small Jewish community. She is best friends with beautiful Jestine, who is the daughter of their wise and faithful maid Adele. Rachel is married off young to a much older widow with three children of his own. But it is her second marriage that brings scandal and true love into Rachel’s life along with 8 more children. Life in this community is not easy and following the traditions and rules often puts Rachel at odds with her neighbors. As interesting and intense as is the spirit of Rachel, this novel morphs into what I feel is the main story and that is the life of her youngest son Jacob who changes his name later in life and is none other than the master of Impressionism, artist Camille Pissarro. I loved reading about the history of these Caribbean islands, where slavery, rum, molasses, and pirates kept these displaced European communities racing towards the future. Highly recommend this insightful, heartfelt novel filled with incredible history, family, spirit, art and love.
I've only read one Alice Hoffman (The Red Garden) and loved it. I've been eyeballing this one for a while - thanks for the reminder!ReplyDelete