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The Resource The Museum of Extraordinary Things : a novel, Alice Hoffman

The Museum of Extraordinary Things : a novel, Alice Hoffman

Label
The Museum of Extraordinary Things : a novel
Title
The Museum of Extraordinary Things
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Alice Hoffman
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
The daughter of a Coney Island boardwalk curiosities museum's front man pursues an impassioned love affair with a Russian immigrant photographer who after fleeing his Lower East Side Orthodox community has captured poignant images of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire
Member of
Tone
Character
Review
  • Like the museum of its title, Hoffman’s (The Dovekeepers) latest novel is a collection of curiosities, each fascinating in its own right, but haphazardly connected as a whole. New York City in 1911 is caught between its future and its past: the last woods are threatened by sidewalks; sweatshops and child labor abuses give rise to a cruel division between rich and poor. Coralie Sardie’s father runs Coney Island’s Museum of Extraordinary Things, a sideshow exhibit of pickled and preserved wonders, as well as living freaks; Coralie’s own webbed hands lead her father to train her as a swimmer, billing her as “the Human Mermaid.” But Professor Sardie’s museum is threatened by the city’s changing tastes, and he becomes increasingly sinister in his control of Coralie and his plans for the museum’s future. In a parallel, hopscotching storyline, Eddie Cohen, a Russian Orthodox Jewish immigrant, abandons his father and his community and becomes a photographer, finding his purpose in the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the search for one of its victims. Though both stories have Hoffman’s trademark magical realism and hold great potential, their connection is tenuous—literally and thematically—and their complexities leave them incompletely explored. (Feb.) --Staff (Reviewed November 18, 2013) (Publishers Weekly, vol 260, issue 46, p)
  • New York, 1911. Coralie Sardie works for her father, the "professor" and impresario of the Museum of Extraordinary Things, a freak show in Coney Island. She performs as a mermaid in a tank but really lives for her long swims in the cold Hudson River. While Coralie's element is water, Eddie Cohen is tormented by fire. He fled a fiery pogrom in his native Russia and now wants to break away from his miserable life on the Lower East Side and become a photographer. Eddie's hatred of rich factory owners increases when he takes photos of the ghastly fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Greenwich Village. Meanwhile, Professor Sardie grows even more sinister as the crowds desert his "museum" for the new and lavish amusement palaces of Luna Park and Dreamland. Then Coralie and Eddie get caught up in the chaos as Dreamland burns to the ground. VERDICT With a sprinkling of magical realism, Hoffman (Survival Lessons ) blends social realism, historical fiction, romance, and mystery in a fast-paced and dramatic novel filled with colorful characters and vivid scenes of life in New York more than a century ago. [See Prepub Alert, 8/13/13.]— Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA --Leslie Patterson (Reviewed January 1, 2014) (Library Journal, vol 139, issue 1, p98)
  • A young woman grows up in her father's eponymous Coney Island museum at the turn of the 20th century in Hoffman's (The Dovekeepers, 2011, etc.) novel. Watched over by her beloved but acid-scarred family housekeeper, motherless Coralie lives a seemingly idyllic early childhood with her intellectual father above the "museum" he runs but doesn't let her visit. Then, on Coralie's 10th birthday, in 1903, her father not only escorts her through the exhibit for the first time, but he also puts her on display as "The Human Mermaid." Born with webbed fingers, Coralie, an expert swimmer, spends her days in a tank wearing her mermaid suit. At first, she loves the work, in what her father staunchly denies is a freak show, and becomes close to other members of the exhibition, particularly the "Wolfman," with whom Coralie's housekeeper falls in love. But as business flags, her father arranges special showings, during which adolescent Coralie must swim naked for invited male audiences. By 1911, her father, a Fagin-like villain who hopes to milk rumored sightings of a sea monster, sends Coralie into New York's waters at odd hours disguised as the monster. On one of her nightly swims, Coralie comes ashore, discovers a young man with a camera at a campfire and is instantly smitten. Eddie Cohen, the son of an Orthodox Jew, has left behind his ethnic and spiritual roots to become a photographer. Motherless like Coralie, Eddie has also been employed in phony magic, in his case, finding missing persons for a fake seer. Their love affair and Coralie's rebellion against her father play out in a changing New York City as seen through Eddie's photographic lens. Hoffman displays an obvious affection for the city, as well as for those society would deem freaks, but readers looking for an evocative, magical take on the immigrant experience would be better served by Helene Wecker's The Golem and Jinni (2013).(Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2014)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10262447
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Hoffman, Alice
Dewey number
813/.54
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS3558.O3447
LC item number
M87 2014
Literary form
fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Young women
  • Immigrants
  • Russians
  • Jews
  • New York (State)
  • Jewish fiction
Target audience
adult
Label
The Museum of Extraordinary Things : a novel, Alice Hoffman
Instantiates
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 367-368)
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Extent
368 pages
Isbn
9781451693577
Lccn
2013036572
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Note
Imprint varies.
System control number
  • 852226440
  • (OCoLC)852226440
Label
The Museum of Extraordinary Things : a novel, Alice Hoffman
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 367-368)
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Extent
368 pages
Isbn
9781451693577
Lccn
2013036572
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Note
Imprint varies.
System control number
  • 852226440
  • (OCoLC)852226440

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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