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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

by

The Museum of Extraordinary Things Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Mesmerizing and illuminating, Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things is the story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century.

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Alice Hoffman at her most spellbinding.

Review:

“In The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Alice Hoffman mounts an arresting display: a New York City tale rich with literary inspiration, history, and urban legend. Readers often talk about being immersed in novels; this is a satisfying swim in tidal waters. Take the plunge.” Gregory Maquire, author of Wicked and Out of Oz

Review:

"As always, Alice Hoffman amazes me with her ability to use words the way other master artists use watercolors, painting the dreamlike world of a girl who grows up in a hall of wonders only to learn that something as ordinary as love is the greatest marvel of all. Many novels these days are called 'stunning' but this one truly IS: part love story, part mystery, part history, and all beauty." Jodi Picoult, author of The Storyteller and Lone Wolf

Review:

“Hoffman’s book earns its legitimacy through an eye-opening plethora of period detailing, coupled with the author’s overarching outrage at urban workplace abuses….You can’t help but admire the author’s fervor for telling stories and the democratic manner in which she disseminates the love of reading.” Jan Stuart, The Boston Globe

Review:

“A lavish tale about strange yet sympathetic people, haunted by the past and living in bizarre circumstances… Imaginative…Once Coralie and Eddie discover each other, their profound, mystical attraction and mutual obsession become forces of their own, driving the story forward.” Katharine Weber, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

“Spellbinding….Hoffman’s penchant for the magical is on full display in this world filled with rogues, strivers, corrupt politicians, Gilded Age riches and debilitating poverty. The chaos and grandeur of New York City at the time make it a character in its own right, as monstorous and intoxicating as the circus sideshow that traps Coralie and makes her a star.” Andrea Walker, People

Review:

“Alice Hoffman employs her trademark alchemy of finding the magical amid the ordinary in her mesmerizing new novel.…If you're looking for an enchanting love story rich with history and a sense of place, step right up to The Museum of Extraordinary Things.” USA Today

Review:

“The year 1911 had an apocalyptic feel in New York City as fire devastated the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Greenwich Village and destroyed the amusement park Dreamland that rose above Coney Island. Manhattan wasn’t yet entirely tamed by concrete and people still believed in the fantastical. Alice Hoffman, whose brand of magic realism really should have a patent pending, makes lovely work of the era in her new city-centric novel, The Museum of Extraordinary Things.” Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News

Review:

“Hoffman masterfully creates two characters of depth and emotion in Eddie and Coralie….[She] does not disappoint.” Amanda St. Amand, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Review:

“The Museum of Extraordinary Things, like Ragtime, is packed with history and mystery, an introspective and full-bodied fairy tale for adult readers.” Julie Bookman, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Review:

“Alice Hoffman's storytelling magic is on abundant display in her new novel….Hoffman expertly weaves the future lovers' monologues with a third-person account moving through the spring of 1911 to create a wonderfully rich narrative tapestry. Her prose is as lyrically beautiful as ever, evoking the teeming complexity of New York ….The action-packed story line sweeps through labor strife, a missing Triangle worker eventually fished from the Hudson, the exposure of her murderer and a bravura plot twist that reveals the truth about Coralie's mother.” Newsday

Review:

“Fans of Hoffman will not be disappointed. Lush imagery, extensive use of period details, well-drawn, and vivid prose make this a sumptuous read…a rich reading experience.” The Seattle Times

Review:

"Part Ray Bradbury and part Steven Millhauser...the delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary is balanced more in favor of the world we know, though not many writers describe that world as elegantly as Hoffman does....First-rate...Vividly drawn...Hoffman gives us extraordinary things and extraordinary times. And more." Ed Siegel, The Artery, WBUR

Review:

“[Hoffman is] a master of craft and a lover of language. Each sentence shows precision and deliberation….The Museum of Extraordinary Things lives up to the ‘extraordinary’ of its title, a work of passion that celebrates a place and an era even while it explores a particularly dark moment in New York’s history.” Zach Powers, The Savannah Morning News

Review:

“Classic Hoffman: a bewitching world of time and place (in this case, Coney Island and its boardwalk freak show in the early 1900s) suffused with magical moments, a mysterious disappearance and romance.” Darcy Jacobs, Family Circle

Review:

“Hoffman breathes fiery life into an enrapturing fairy tale and historical fiction mash-up….Ravishing…Dramatic…Hoffman unveils both horror and magic in this transfixing tale of liberation and love in a metropolis of lies, yearning, and metamorphosis.” Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Alice Hoffman is the author of thirty works of fiction, including Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club Selection Here on Earth, and the recent blockbuster bestseller The Dovekeepers. She lives in Boston.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

techeditor, December 26, 2014 (view all comments by techeditor)
THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS is exceptionally good historical fiction about two people, Eddie and Coralie, with very different backgrounds who find each other and fall in love in early twentieth-century New York. This is not a romance story. Rather, the majority of the book concentrates on each of their lives before they even knew each other, at various times telling of Coralie's life, other times Eddie's, sometimes in first person, other times third person.

Coralie is the "deformed" daughter of the owner of Coney Island's Museum of Extraordinary Things, what we would call a freak show. Coralie, herself, is on display as an extraordinary thing because of her webbed fingers.

Eddie is a Russian immigrant who came to New York with his father when he was a child. He is good at finding people and is eventually hired by a man to locate his daughter. When Eddie finds her dead body, the man again hires him to solve the mystery of who did it and why. In the process, their two lives, Eddie's and Coralie's, come together.

So, more than a story of Eddie's and Coralie's love for each other, this book is the story of Coralie's life as a prisoner of evil and the story of Eddie's life as both a finder and a photographer. Editorial: Thank goodness for Coralie Eddie found her.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Betty Gelean, August 1, 2014 (view all comments by Betty Gelean)
A story of exploitation, broken trust, secrets and changes to come, memorable and unique

A very unusual book, told from two main sources. Yes, there is a museum and it is fascinating, but there are dark secrets hidden here. The museum is owned by a refugee who lives alone on Coney Island with his young daughter, who tells one part of the story, and a housekeeper. Both are called monsters, though they are the most caring in the story. The girl is very young at the beginning of her story, and one hundred percent under the control of her father, though she is not aware of it. Nor is she aware of what his plan for her future is.

The second storyteller is an Orthodox Jew, a refugee from the Ukraine who lives with his father and both work in the textile mills in Boston. A young boy on the verge of rebellion at the beginning. He renounces his faith when he believes his father tried to commit suicide.

It is a time in New York when men were in charge and women were treated as possessions, a time when class distinction was not only strongly defined but often corrupt and hidden crime was rampant, a time when 'hired' help was more often than not mistreated. Also a time of workhouses where children and women were forced to work for a pittance and often accidents occurred. Such is the case when a fire breaks out while the workers are locked within. You thought this happened only in other countries? Murders and assaults occur while eyes remain closed. This is New York in the 1800s and early 1900s. Manhattan was not much more than a swamp at certain times of the year. Coney Island was just becoming the famous park and beach it would one day be. For the boy who renounced his faith he has found beauty in nature. For the girl living at the museum, she has found horror. Will the two ever be able to find each other in time?

Through all the brutality of the times, this story is beautiful in many ways. It flows between two sides, much like the Hudson River, featured so often in the story and integral to it in many ways. It is a story of betrayal, but also a love story of two storytellers. There is connection between many of the characters, and the spark of life, love and humanity exists and blooms against all odds. Alice Hoffman has not only captured the essence of early New York, she has integrated two historical events seamlessly, and recreated the crises so vividly you can almost feel the heat. Though the characters are fictional, the events are real. This is a wonderful story of compassion within a nightmare world. This story I will carry with me for a long time.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Both rating and review are my own perception of the book.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Elizabeth Rosner, May 11, 2014 (view all comments by Elizabeth Rosner)
The lush prose and exquisitely nuanced characters make their own worthy arguments for readers to treasure this novel. But it is Hoffman's use of history that enlarges the story to a level I consider both irresistible and important. With heartbreaking vividness, this masterful writer reminds us that the tragedy of the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, and its complicated aftermath, truly changed the course of all of our lives.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781451693560
Author:
Hoffman, Alice
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20140231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
228.6 x 152.4 mm

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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The Museum of Extraordinary Things New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$27.99 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9781451693560 Reviews:
"Review" by , “In The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Alice Hoffman mounts an arresting display: a New York City tale rich with literary inspiration, history, and urban legend. Readers often talk about being immersed in novels; this is a satisfying swim in tidal waters. Take the plunge.”
"Review" by , "As always, Alice Hoffman amazes me with her ability to use words the way other master artists use watercolors, painting the dreamlike world of a girl who grows up in a hall of wonders only to learn that something as ordinary as love is the greatest marvel of all. Many novels these days are called 'stunning' but this one truly IS: part love story, part mystery, part history, and all beauty."
"Review" by , “Hoffman’s book earns its legitimacy through an eye-opening plethora of period detailing, coupled with the author’s overarching outrage at urban workplace abuses….You can’t help but admire the author’s fervor for telling stories and the democratic manner in which she disseminates the love of reading.”
"Review" by , “A lavish tale about strange yet sympathetic people, haunted by the past and living in bizarre circumstances… Imaginative…Once Coralie and Eddie discover each other, their profound, mystical attraction and mutual obsession become forces of their own, driving the story forward.”
"Review" by , “Spellbinding….Hoffman’s penchant for the magical is on full display in this world filled with rogues, strivers, corrupt politicians, Gilded Age riches and debilitating poverty. The chaos and grandeur of New York City at the time make it a character in its own right, as monstorous and intoxicating as the circus sideshow that traps Coralie and makes her a star.”
"Review" by , “Alice Hoffman employs her trademark alchemy of finding the magical amid the ordinary in her mesmerizing new novel.…If you're looking for an enchanting love story rich with history and a sense of place, step right up to The Museum of Extraordinary Things.”
"Review" by , “The year 1911 had an apocalyptic feel in New York City as fire devastated the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Greenwich Village and destroyed the amusement park Dreamland that rose above Coney Island. Manhattan wasn’t yet entirely tamed by concrete and people still believed in the fantastical. Alice Hoffman, whose brand of magic realism really should have a patent pending, makes lovely work of the era in her new city-centric novel, The Museum of Extraordinary Things.”
"Review" by , “Hoffman masterfully creates two characters of depth and emotion in Eddie and Coralie….[She] does not disappoint.”
"Review" by , “The Museum of Extraordinary Things, like Ragtime, is packed with history and mystery, an introspective and full-bodied fairy tale for adult readers.”
"Review" by , “Alice Hoffman's storytelling magic is on abundant display in her new novel….Hoffman expertly weaves the future lovers' monologues with a third-person account moving through the spring of 1911 to create a wonderfully rich narrative tapestry. Her prose is as lyrically beautiful as ever, evoking the teeming complexity of New York ….The action-packed story line sweeps through labor strife, a missing Triangle worker eventually fished from the Hudson, the exposure of her murderer and a bravura plot twist that reveals the truth about Coralie's mother.”
"Review" by , “Fans of Hoffman will not be disappointed. Lush imagery, extensive use of period details, well-drawn, and vivid prose make this a sumptuous read…a rich reading experience.”
"Review" by , "Part Ray Bradbury and part Steven Millhauser...the delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary is balanced more in favor of the world we know, though not many writers describe that world as elegantly as Hoffman does....First-rate...Vividly drawn...Hoffman gives us extraordinary things and extraordinary times. And more."
"Review" by , “[Hoffman is] a master of craft and a lover of language. Each sentence shows precision and deliberation….The Museum of Extraordinary Things lives up to the ‘extraordinary’ of its title, a work of passion that celebrates a place and an era even while it explores a particularly dark moment in New York’s history.”
"Review" by , “Classic Hoffman: a bewitching world of time and place (in this case, Coney Island and its boardwalk freak show in the early 1900s) suffused with magical moments, a mysterious disappearance and romance.”
"Review" by , “Hoffman breathes fiery life into an enrapturing fairy tale and historical fiction mash-up….Ravishing…Dramatic…Hoffman unveils both horror and magic in this transfixing tale of liberation and love in a metropolis of lies, yearning, and metamorphosis.”
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