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.
©2014 Alice Hoffman (P)2014 Simon & Schuster Audio
Alice Hoffman was my first author crush. The woman who turned me on to Hoffman's novels owned a funky eclectic bookstore where I'd have coffee and book chat whenever I could. With bated breath we'd wait for each new Alice Hoffman book, each one a gem.
Hoffman's world is a dreamy, swim through enchanting, eerie and magical adventures with female and male underdogs conquering all obstacles in life and love. The Museum of Extraordinary Things, once you dive in, holds you as a willing captive, swimming effortlessly through the story, in which you learn, in the most intimate way, about two, otherwise obscure, events in NYC history, through the eyes of the victims and their families. Hoffman is an excellent and thorough researcher, and blends the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and Dreamland fires of 1911 seamlessly into her always mesmerizing plots and characters. Her ventures into historical fiction, totally impress me, and this is her very best effort in this genre.
Vividly brought to life are the workers' struggles of the 1900's, and mistreatment and arbitrary abuse to women, minorities and immigrants. Sadly, it all echoes many of the same problems with which we struggle today.
Well done Alice Hoffman! A loyal fan I remain. Thus, so delighted was I to surprisingly find a fascinating conversation between Alice Hoffman and narrator Judith Light come on following the completion of The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Such a wonderful cure for that odd, black hole in which one finds oneself after finishing a long, really good book. The two discussed the novel, their lives, their passions, their methods, and so much more. Very, very satisfying, particularly after such an excellent read!
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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.
Maybe reading the book instead of listening to the book would have made this story better.
Judith Light's performance ruined the whole thing for me. I almost gave up.
It felt like she was reading to a 3 year old.
No. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen....for the main character's lives to intertwine. It was a long wait!
I love Alice Hoffman and own many of her titles. This one was a disappointment. It just wasn't an interesting story.
This was the worst part. Judith Light did a terrible job. She can not change voices for different characters and different emotions. Her only change from her normal voice was to read the characters in clipped stilted speech which was unbelievable and irritating . I think this book might have a chance with another reader. Someone with better range. The other two narrators were okay.
The story was a bit slow, but if I had enjoyed the narration I may have kept listening.
Judith Light did not narrate well, especially the dialogue. It was very flat and without inflection.
R. T. Red
Who's bright idea was it to have Judith Light narrate? Her reading frustrated me so bad I gave up on the book. Oh and I can listen to hours and hours of the narrator for Jack Reacher stories.
I was looking forward to listening to this story but I was disappointed in the quality of the actors. While Judith Light is well known and her voice instantly recognizable, she was hard to follow and the "voices" she used for the characters sounded very odd. The story was ok, and the ending was suspenseful. It was fun to hear the author infuse stories about new york in the early 1900s.
The narrator is a disaster. Really hard to understand for major portions of the book. I grew up in Coney Island during the 40's and 50's and have mostly very good memories. Listening to some of the history was terrific but the narrator really interrupted any enjoyment I was getting.
I struggle with what to say about this book. I think the main problem I had was that the story focused so much in description of historic facts amd locations. typically i would be fine with that and, in fact, find it interesting. However, i felt that, in this instance, it actually took away from the other storylines and subplots that were developing. i felt like the romance and mystery subolplots kind if fell by the wayside. The story was engaging and i felt myself react to all the goings on, but i felt like the overwhelming amount of detail in the minutiae took away from the overall story.
The strengths of this story are the unique characters and well-researched historical detail. But somehow, the pie ex of the story don't coalesce into a smooth narrative. The (3) separate narrators may have added to this. I agree, Judith Light's narration was a distraction. ( Grace Gummer and Zack Appleman were fine ). My favorite "character " was the 100-year tortoise ...... probably not what the author was trying for.
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