Infrequently, there is a book so great it is difficult to follow with another. Such is the case of The Museum of Extraordinary Things. I wanted to finInfrequently, there is a book so great it is difficult to follow with another. Such is the case of The Museum of Extraordinary Things. I wanted to finish it to see what happened, yet did want it to end. And, when trying to follow with another book, I opened five different ones, but none grabbed me in the beginning like this one did.
I haven't read Alice Hoffman in awhile. She's written three books since I last read one of hers. Reading this book reinforced why she is one of my favorite authors.
Magical realism is how I would define her books. They contain a mystical, dreamlike feeling, while dealing with difficult subjects. Hoffman hasn't lost her touch and ability to continue to pull the reader into the pages, while holding them to continue page after page of beautiful phrases and vivid images.
In The Museum of Extraordinary Things, the focus is on the year 1911. The setting is New York City, and in particular Coney Island. Two major historical events occurred that year. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burned, killing many young girls who, because the owner bolted the doors, could not escape, taking their lives in a ghastly conflagration, and, just as a major renovation costing millions, The Coney Island Dreamland amusement park caught fire. Destroying all newly built spectacular rides and killing rare, exotic animals, hundreds watched as lions, elephants and tigers were set free as they ran into the fire and were either burnt or killed by a bullet to contain them. The flames shot hundreds of feet into the air when a bucket of hot tar sparked and destroyed everything, including surrounding structures.
One other major non historical event occurred, Coralie Sardie began to look at her father in a totally different way. Now 18, and used as a freak in her father's house of extraordinary things, she began to rebel. Her webbed hand deformities kept her bound to him as he attached a fin-like apparatus to her body, hid a breathing tube behind some fake scenery, allowing her a daily existence in a tank of cold water, captivating those who would pay .40 to see her and various other "freaks" of her father's making.
The outside world called to Coralie as she, with her gloved hands, ventured over the rooftop each night and wandered down the board walk where she envisioned freedom.
As the Dreamland pier was building, her father's freak show was ending. The promise of the Dreamland experience drew her and many others who wanted more than looking at formaldehyde glass jars containing oddities. As Dreamland expansion began, his fortunes collapsed, leaving him increasingly desperate to find new sources of income, one of which exploited Coralie's body and soul.
This book is Alice Hoffman at her best. The images are so crisp and clear that the fuse in the readers mind. This is a story of longing, freedom, hope, determination and love. At the time when workers demanded a union for better working conditions, Coralie too demands what is rightfully hers -- a life free of soul numbing consequences.
As each of the wonderfully drawn characters present themselves on the pages, the reader identifies with every one of them in a magical way.
Deserving a high recommendation, this is a must read of Five Stars! ...more
This is a well-written account of how elusive James Earl Ray was and the difficulty in apprehending him. In the end, it was Scotlalnd Yard that foundThis is a well-written account of how elusive James Earl Ray was and the difficulty in apprehending him. In the end, it was Scotlalnd Yard that found him, with the help of the FBI.
This is yet another book that stressed just how very weary Martin Luther King was and how devastated and depressed he was in watching all the internal fighting of the key members of the civll rights movement.
One interesting fact I learned was that Jessie Jackson told the press that he was on the balcony, holding Martin Luther King after he was shot. This was indeed a blatant lie, as he was on the ground, most likely hiding in the bushes fearful that the sniper was still determined to kill others....more
Martin Luther King died a depressed man. All this striving to preach non violence seemed to be heading no where. In fact, just the opposite occurred.Martin Luther King died a depressed man. All this striving to preach non violence seemed to be heading no where. In fact, just the opposite occurred. New, younger more pro actively prone toward leading the civil rights movement toward immediately, and violent out breaks occurred.
This is a well written book, filled with touching details. I ended feeling so sad for the man who preached love and was scorned.