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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things Cover

ISBN13: 9781451693560
ISBN10: 1451693567
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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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 4 comments:

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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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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nrlymrtl, May 5, 2014 (view all comments by nrlymrtl)
This was my first Alice Hoffman book but it will not be my last. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a tale of the human spirit, the limits it can be pushed to, and the simple, beautiful things that bring it back to life. OK, it’s about more than that. Hoffman captures the essence of 1911 New York from the working person’s point of view, using characters that were considered the outcasts of the mainstream. Coralie, born to the life of the ‘freak show’, doesn’t really see her coworkers as people first. Maureen, her constant companion and the all-around maid of the house, has been scarred by acid many years ago. the Wolfman, Mr. Morris, is well-read and a proper gentleman at all times, except when doing his daily show for the Museum of Extraordinary Things, at which sits in a cage and growls at the paying crowds. The Museum was also filled with other odd things such as rare birds and insects, and taxidermied beasts (Professor Sardie may have modified with big wolf or shark teeth).

I was fascinated by Coralie’s life. At first, she is simple, having been told a simple, but beautiful, story of her dead mother and how her father and her came from France to New York. Coralie’s mild deformity is a gift, one that allows her to entrance the public and her father puts it to good use. However, as the story moves forward and Coralie starts to push against her father’s rules, she starts to see him as the egotistical control freak that he is. The Museum slowly changes from a place of wonder and magic to a place of oppression as Professor Sardie squeezes every coin he can from his workers, his creations, and the public.

It took me longer to warm up to Eddie. Perhaps I didn’t immediately see the charm in this young man who severed himself from his emotions at such a young age. In many ways, he is a man of two worlds. He sees, vaguely and always in the distance, what life could have been for his father and himself �" both pursuing the scholarly Jewish life. On another path, he could have stayed with his father, stayed in the Jewish quarter, and stayed working at the clothing factory. But he had to walk away from that life too. He found magic and beauty in photography and was lucky enough to find a mentor willing to teach him. He is a full photographer when the historical Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire occurs.

I had not heard about this factory fire before reading this book, even though the aftermath of this event was instrumental in setting safety standards for workers. It was described so well, raising the hairs on the back of my neck. This event and other historical bits from the time were effortlessly woven into the storyline. Out of this also comes a murder mystery which made for an interesting side plot.

The ending was horrific, terrifying, filled with hope, and satisfying. Deeply satisfying. I was horrified by the tragedy that wraps up this tale (I’ll leave that for you to discover). I was terrified that my two lead characters may not make it out alive. I had also become attached to Maureen, Mr. Morris, the tortoise, and Mitts (Eddie’s pitbull). How would they all make it out of this book alive, healthy, sane? But there was hope as these characters rallied together, along with other side characters. And the ending gave me great satisfaction as I felt the main evil doers got some decent payback.
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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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The Museum of Extraordinary Things Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$19.50 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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