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The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Anne Hoffman

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Anne Hoffman

The Museum of Extraordinary Thingsby Anne Hoffman

Coralie has a magical life among wondrous and extraordinary things.  Her father, Professor Sardie, is the owner of a very special museum in Coney Island.  Some may call the animals and people who reside there freaks of nature, but Professor Sardie calls them wonders.  And the most wondrous of all is his daughter Coralie.  Born with webbed hands she is billed as the living mermaid spending hours in a water tank wearing a fake tail and swimming before visitors from around the world.  But all is not as happy and joyous as Coralie believes in her girlhood.  As she grows older she understands more about the world around her and her place in it.  She begins longing for the extraordinary world outside the museum.

Overall this is a dark novel, for the 1910s were a dark time in New York City.  Disasters play a great role in the story, starting with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  The other main character, Eddie, is a photographer on the scene of the fire, whose story later intertwines with Coralie’s.  Her innocence and his ability to see beauty through his camera lens where others can not provide the glimpses of light through the darkness of the time and the situations the characters find themselves in. 

While this is a great character study, and a great portrait of the time of labor disputes and corruption in New York City, the frame of the story is actually a mystery.  The storyline which ties all the others together is the disappearance of a young woman who should have been working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory at the time of the fire, but no one remembers her there that day, nor has her body or any of her belongings been found in the ashes.

This is one of those infrequent books that I wouldn’t completely recommend on audio.  It is read by three readers and I just didn’t enjoy the voice of one of the actors.  She had a nasally and clipped reading style that I found jarring.  I kept listening despite that so I know the story was a good one!
By | 2017-05-03T20:34:19+00:00 March 26th, 2014|SCLSNJ Recommended Reads|
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