St. Thomas: Talk on “The Marriage of Opposites” and Pissarro Art Exhibit


Kelsey Nowakowski reports on a recent talk by Alice Hoffman, who discussed her latest novel, The Marriage of Opposites (2015), at the St. Thomas Hebrew Congregation synagogue in downtown Charlotte Amalie on Friday evening. The book explores the life of Rachel Pomié, mother of the St. Thomas-born impressionist artist Camille Pissarro [see previous post ‘The Marriage of Opposites’: Who Was Rachel Pissarro (Camille’s Mother)?]; therefore, the talk was accompanied by an exhibition of locally-owned Pissarro pieces, curated by Priscilla Hintz Rivera de Knight.

[. . .] Several dozen people from book clubs and the Jewish community on St. John, as well as a few people from St. Croix, ventured to St. Thomas for the talk and art exhibit of locally owned Pissarro pieces that followed the special Shabbat prayer service.

Many of the audience members had already read the book that published in the fall of 2015, their curiosity peaked by its partial setting in 19th century St. Thomas where Pomié was born. Though the artist Pissarro plays a role in the novel, his mother Rachel and her disgraced marriage to his father are at the core of the narrative.

The Hebrew Congregation invited Boston-based Hoffman to speak at the service when Jacqueline Silverberg contacted her publisher after reading a brief clip about the book in a travelogue. The event was held in honor of Silverberg’s husband Jerry’s 92nd birthday.

“Her lyrical writing style has the same evocative depth as Camille’s paintings and her words are a pleasure to read. There is magic within the pages of the book and we the readers must decide where myth starts and magic begins,” Silverberg said while introducing Hoffman.

Hoffman said she felt like she joined the congregation when she started writing the novel and she fell in love with Rachel’s character along the way. “She was brave, she was daring, she was willing to do anything for love…She did things at that time that women didn’t do…He [Pissarro] did exactly what she did – he married for love,” Hoffman said.

[. . .] “I think it’s very important that the history of St. Thomas and that the history of the synagogue goes forward into the world and that people don’t forget what happened here and what happened in Spain and they don’t forget women like Rachel Pissarro who was so brave and so daring” Hoffman said.

[. . .] After the Shabbat service ended, attendees walked over to the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas’ Lilienfeld House for a one-night only art exhibition. Collectors from St. John and St. Thomas loaned sketches and drawing from their private collections for the event.

In less than a month, St. Thomas-based curator Priscilla Hintz Rivera de Knight planned the exhibit after being contacted by Silverberg, who was impressed with the curator’s previous shows. For Hintz Rivera de Knight, curating this event brought her career full circle.

For full article, see

2 thoughts on “St. Thomas: Talk on “The Marriage of Opposites” and Pissarro Art Exhibit

  1. I read this book not realising it was referring to one of my favourite artists Pissarro until towards the end of the book.
    The book was wonderful I had trouble puting it down.
    The fact that it was partly about Pissarro made it even more enjoyable.

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