Book Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman”

  1. I read and enjoyed this one a few years back as I was going through a “circus and fairground” fiction reading phase. I gave it 4 stars, and in my notes from then I compare it to Kirsty Logan’s novel “The Gracekeepers”, which is set partly in a floating circus and has similar themes around freedom, loyalty, acceptance and self-determination. Celia has certain similarities to Callanish from Logan’s novel too – a certain shared affiliation with water, shall we say.
    Thanks for sharing, and giving me the chance to discuss circusy books!

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    1. oh I will definitely need to check out “The Gracekeeprs”! I love circus based fantasy books. If you haven’t read Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (I wrote a review on that too!) or Caravel by Stephanie Garber I would highly recommend them!

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      1. The Night Circus is a longtime favourite of mine – it inspired my undergraduate dissertation on how circuses in C21 fiction are adapted from the historical reality to suit contemporary sensibilities. I’ve heard a lot about Caravel but still not read it, so I really ought to source a copy!

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      2. You did an undergraduate dissertation on circuses?!? I’m absolutely intrigued and would love to hear more. That sounds incredible. I added The Gracekeepers to my list to be ordered, any other recommendations would be highly welcomed!


      3. Thanks! I haven’t shared any of that research online (yet), but probably at some point in the future I will do.
        I wrote about animal acts in circuses – because animal cruelty is considered broadly unacceptable for readers today, but the acts were considered entertaining at the time, authors have had to be clever in the way they represent animals. I also wrote about “extraordinary bodies”, and the relationship between disability and freakshows, exploring how the writers empowered the characters whose bodies caused them to be objectified or dehumanized. As I was researching, I found some great criticism about twins in literature which was very applicable to The Night Circus, and I also read a lot about clowns!
        In terms of other novels, Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus is a fantastic story (in all senses) about a swan-woman, a journalist, and a circus. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (on which the Robert Pattinson/ Reese Witherspoon film is based) isn’t magical realist, but if it’s the circus setting you’re interested in, you might like it – be aware, it does have some quite violent scenes.


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