Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Marriage of Opposites, Thinking about Reading

I just finished reading The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. You know how sometimes when you start a book you're not sure if you're going to like it or maybe even finish it, and by the end you are totally engaged and raving about it? This novel was like that for me.

So why continue reading a book if the beginning doesn't engage you? One reason for me is that I belong to two book clubs. Unless I have suggested the book, it's always a book that I never would have picked up on my own. I would have stayed happily in my own reading world of mysteries, history, historical fiction, and books about Mozart. It's good for me to expand. I especially never would have chosen The Marriage of Opposites because I read another Alice Hoffman novel, the Museum of Extraordinary Things, for one of my book clubs and though there were things about it that I liked, overall I found it creepy. 

My other book club chose The Marriage of Opposites. I'm glad I stuck with it. By the end I thought it was an outstanding book. It's about the impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and his family. Hoffman's descriptions of the island of St. Thomas in the 19th century and then later in the book, her descriptions of the way Camille saw things in colors that weren't obvious, made the story spring to life. Her characters too, were so real and mostly sympathetic. It reminded me of the parts of The Museum of Extraordinary Things that I liked - the description of northern Manhattan when it was still a wilderness in the early 20th century - amazing! Who knew? The aura of magicalness that permeated parts of the story were also part of The Marriage of Opposites.

What else am I reading? I have gone overboard at the moment. I have started a biography of James Warren, a leader of the American Revolution who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. I want to know more about him in order to share with my students, but it's such a boring book. I also have started a biography of Benjamin Rush, a fascinating man also from the American Revolution who is virtually ignore today, along with James Warren. I'm reading a book for professional development, Change One Thing, and a book about practicing, The Perfect Wrong Note. I have a stack of novels for young people about the American Revolution, again for my students. And I have The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. I'm very interested in reading this new novel about an opera singer in the 1880s. It's new so I only have it for 14 days from my public library and it's 550 pages!

Staying calm, too many books to read is not a problem.


  1. Thanks for the glimpse into your varied & harried reading life, Becky. I empathize with that feeling of bumping up against a library deadline.

  2. Oh Becky, I have your problem with books. I have so many on my reading stack, I sometimes fear I'll never get one done. Then I tell myself to read one at a time and I can't. I need variety. Maybe I should do what you do and borrow from the library so I can put deadlines on them!

    It seems like you like biographies. I am reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and it's written so well. The language is like poetry and I have to keep rereading just to say out loud what the author is written.

    Thank you for sharing your world of books right now!

    1. Thank you for the suggestion - I'll check it out, probably in the summer! I've been trying to read more library books since reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I do own.