Hoffman writes meticulous historical dramas. This book tells the story of Rachel, growing up in St. Thomas in the Caribbean in the 1800s. Eventually she becomes the mother of Camille Pissarro who eventually becomes an important impressionist painter. Rachel and Camille are both head-strong and strong-willed which predictably creates conflict. The context of the early Caribbean life and Paris briefly is beautiful, and the story-telling is worthwhile.
One of the best features of this book is the setting: New York and more specifically Coney Island in Brooklyn in 1911. The “museum” is really an exhibit of freaks of nature, both living and dead, most faked/manipulated. The Professor character is wonderfully wicked, but love wins out. Part of the story is a mystery, to add to the flavour.