My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite writers of literature, what with The Museum of Extraordinary Things being on the list of my all time favorite books, so I couldn't resist plucking this right off the shelf at the library when I saw it there, all while being quite surprised that it was even checked in, guess I'm the only one in this small town that loves a good book.
So Rachel, one of the main characters, gives up her dreams of Paris to marry a man she doesn't really know to help save her father's failing business. The husband is ancient in age compared to her own, a widower still in love with his deceased wife, and the father to three children that Rachel must care for and make her own. The continued love for the deceased spouse doesn't bother Rachel and I don't believe it would really bother me that much either as long as their was love in the marriage, but Rachel takes it one step further and visits the grave of her predecessor and talks to her! See Adelle, the housekeeper/cook at her parent's home, believes that Rachel is something special that she is closer to the veil between worlds so to speak and can sense things that others cannot. So Rachel hinges a lot of her premonitions of future happenings on the fact that she is on the good side of her husband's deceased wife. This element of the story adds a paranormal feel to the book, but when you look at the setting, both time and place, and realize how superstitious people where during the early 1800s in St. Thomas it fits perfectly in with the rest of the prose which shows the work of a great historical fiction writer, one who does their research!
Life moves forward for Rachel, her husband dies and so does her father, and soon Rachel finds that she is just a woman with the only two men in her life dead and that will not stand for her to keep taking care of the business so the side of her deceased husband's family that lives in Europe decides to send his nephew to oversee the business and their now predominant interest in it since Rachel is a woman and cannot own nor run a business. This encounter though with her deceased husband's nephew opens up a whole new life for Rachel one for of so much living and love!
A really terrific piece of fiction that any historical fiction lover would devour!