Title: The Museum of Extraordinary Things
Author: Alice Hoffman
Page Count: 368
Publication Date: 2014
Category/Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.74)
My Rating: ★★★★☆(3.8)
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.
This is a beautifully written book about belonging, love and beauty, and family. Hoffman took some incredible pieces of New York history —
Bowery life, the Jewish immigrant experience, the ins and outs of 1910-1911 Coney Island, the gangsters and prostitutes and corrupt officials, Dreamland fire and the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire and tied them together in such a natural progression to two absolutely riveting protagonists and their lives.
“Listen, and you’ll hear a story being told, one you may need to know.”
Coralie and Eddie’s stories kept me equally enthralled as these two young people each struggled to find their own way in the world despite and because of their families and backgrounds.
One of Hoffman’s talents from my experience so far is her character creation and development. Multileveled and incredibly deep, they find ways into your heart and to resonate with your soul. Coralie and Eddie were no exception.
This book was beautiful; dark with moments of light in the shadow; and truly, filled with extraordinary people and things. Yet another notch on my Hoffman success’ list.