From the beloved, best-selling author of The Dovekeepers, a mesmerizing new novel about the electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the 20th century.
Coney Island: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show that amazes and stimulates the crowds. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's "museum", alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a 100-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man photographing 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 an apprentice tailor. When Eddie captures with his camera the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman's disappearance.
New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her 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 Hoffman at her most spellbinding.
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Captivating historical fiction+Hoffman interview!
An Extraordinary Experience
This book was extremely interesting--giving a snapshot of Manhattan in the late 1800's with its diversity, specifically the chasm between the rich and poor. It was especially interesting to read of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire from a somewhat different perspective. Another very interesting aspect of the story was the description of Dreamland and the disaster it incurred.
The characters were all very unpredictable and, thus, very interesting. It was difficult to guess what would happen next. I also really liked the setting--it was beautifully described and easy to visualize.
I enjoyed the readers giving voice to Cora and Eddie. I really struggled with the narrator, Judith Light. Her reading was so dramatic and "over the top" that I began to regret not purchasing the hard cover and simply reading it for myself. The author writes so beautifully that there was no need for the additional drama Ms. Light seemed compelled to display. I felt her narration detracted from the story.
There were so many memorable characters that it is hard to select just one. I grew especially found of Maureen and Mr. Morrison--but I also enjoyed the main characters, the hermit, the livery man and, of course, Mitts.
Even with the difficult narration, I would still strongly recommend this book. It had everything a good book should have--excellent setting, characters and plot.