Alice Hoffman’s most recent novel, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, is magical in more ways than one.
Book websites such as Barnes & Noble and BookPage list the novel’s genre as historical fiction, but it is so much more. Hoffman’s prose, an extraordinary thing in its own right, weaves elements of history, magic, cruel realism, hope, and love into a strong, rich, living story.
Coralie Sardie’s father is a former magician who runs the Museum of Extraordinary Things on the Coney Island of 1911. When the museum falls on hard times due to competition, Professor Sardie forces his daughter to train as a mermaid and appear alongside other oddities like the Butterfly Girl and the Wolfman.
On a night swim in the Hudson River (which her father also forces upon her), Coralie sees photographer Eddie Cohen. He has left his job as an apprentice tailor to become a newspaper photographer. Eddie has also deserted his father and their Orthodox Jewish community on New York’s Lower East Side.
The relationship between Coralie and Eddie builds against tragedy and the very vivid characters of early 20th-century New York.
Reviews for The Museum of Extraordinary Things have been overwhelmingly good. A majority of readers who reviewed the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble gave it four stars out of five. The Booklist review said of the novel “…Hoffman breathes fiery life into an enrapturing fairy tale and historical fiction mash-up.”
The Museum of Extraordinary Things is now available at Amazon in hardcover ($19.51), audio ($26.63), and Kindle ($12.74) editions. Also at Barnes & Noble in hardcover ($19.90), audio ($28.79), and Nook ($12.74) editions.
Have you read The Museum of Extraordinary Things, or do you plan to read it? Let us know what you think in the comments.