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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  16,337 ratings  ·  2,698 reviews
From the beloved, bestselling 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 twentieth century.Coney Island: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show that amazes and sti ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 18th 2014 by Scribner
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Jan Hoffman For the same reason I "loved" reading NIGHT. It was powerful and enlightening. It brought to life experiences I will, thank God, never have to live…moreFor the same reason I "loved" reading NIGHT. It was powerful and enlightening. It brought to life experiences I will, thank God, never have to live through. That does not make them any less important. I wonder how many who have read this knew nothing about that horrific part of our history prior to reading this book? How many learned something from that historically accurate part of this book. Hoffman does an amazing job of helping readers see just exactly how painful that experience would have been. It doesn't mean that because we liked the book we were not bothered by that part of history. The facts are the facts. Enjoy the writing about them, the voice, and the story that surrounds the awful truth of the time. (less)
Karen "Museum" immediately reminded me of "Night Circus" both because the writing style was beautiful, and because of the elements of fantasy. I loved Night…more"Museum" immediately reminded me of "Night Circus" both because the writing style was beautiful, and because of the elements of fantasy. I loved Night Circus, although I admit not much really "happened." Yet the descriptive writing was so beautiful, I could hardly put the book down. "Museum" moved at a more rapid pace, with more "real world" events. The writing was perhaps not quite as extraordinary, but still beautifully done. I liked them both a great deal.(less)
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Historical Fiction 2014
22nd out of 394 books — 2,185 voters
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7th out of 309 books — 1,177 voters

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Stuart Smith
It’s everything that I wanted Night Circus to be. It’s everything Water for Elephants aspired to be and just wasn’t. It has that gloomy mood of the Broadway show Side Show (book by Bill Russell) mixed with that “freak” nature that made me love Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (1989). It has hints of political and class strife like Ragtime but there is a love story here that I haven’t seen any of these works accomplish.

The prose that Hoffman tucks away in the nooks and crannies of these pages not onl
How could a novel set in such a thrilling and fascinating time period and location (New York City in the early twentieth century) be such a disappointment? I was really looking forward to delving into this world and in the end, I could not wait to finish this overwrought, far-fetched and ultimately ridiculous story. The characters were nothing more than one-dimensional creations meant to embody archetypes (the Jewish immigrant, the European charlatan, the Innocent Cinderella) and hurled into rea ...more
Five stars is not enough. If I could I'd give it ten stars. I can't even with this heart feels like it might explode. Joy does not begin to describe how I feel after finishing one of Hoffman's books. I feel transformed. Am I the only one who ever feels this pure rush of emotion after reading a book? I hope not.
Two confessions:
1. My first Alice Hoffman book
2. I was concerned I would constantly compare it to Night Circus
So, having finished the book I:
1. I want to read more Alice Hoffman
2. What Circus??
Don’t get me wrong I loved Night Circus but for different reasons.
Coralie and Eddie’s stories kept me equally enthralled as these two young people each struggled to find their own way in the world despite and because of their families and backgrounds. I thought the ties to historical events were well rese
Diane S.
I loved all the history in this novel, the burgeoning Coney Island, the freak shows and all the strange sights to see on the Boardwalk. The descriptions of these things were amazing and this was the best characterization in this novel. I am a big time Hoffman fan, but this was not one of my favorites of hers. It did include some of her trademark magic realism but her characters, just did not draw me in, at least not after the first part of the book.

There are two separate story lines going on and
I fear that I am a little close to this subject to be able to appropriately judge it. For the sake of full disclosure, I have to admit that I manage the museum collection for the Coney Island Museum, so I know the history, I know the stories of the Dreamland fire, the various visits by famous people, the layout of the attractions, and the generally surprising stories of 1911 Coney Island. That being said, there is little new in the way of Coney Island history. It has all been written before.

At f
B the BookAddict
Mar 09, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: don't bother
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: stupid me:(

Two words – horribly disappointing.

I'd be really relieved if Alice Hoffman stepped up to say she was busy cataloguing her library of obscure Latin books on topography and so paid someone else to write this novel for her. Because that's how unlike Hoffman's usual books, this latest offering is. This novel contains none of her signature lyrical sentences and not one character you can admire or understand. There is nothing whimsical here, no brooding relationship; it is not a story you wish you co
What just happened?

I think I'm turning into a monster, a horrible monster who hates everything and everyone and lives on dissatisfaction and bitterness.

How in the world could I not have loved this book? I mean, look at the title! The cover! The synopsis! It's full of promise and I was lured in by the tantalizing story of a girl who grows up alongside her father's museum of oddities and assortments and is, herself, abnormal and is trying to come to terms with her perceived place in the changing w
Paul Pessolano
“The Museum of Extraordinary Things” by Alice Hoffman, published by Scribner.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – February 18, 2014

This book goes beyond Fiction/Literature with adding Romance and Historical Fiction to the story. The story takes place in the early 1900’s in New York City. Alice Hoffman gives insight what it must have been like to live at this time in a city that contained unbelievable wealth and unbelievable poverty. She frames her story around two major fires that to
What a ride!! I'll be posting my review tomorrow...right now I have to pull myself together and get my emotions back in check. Wow! This is my favorite of the year so far.

It may seem like I am giving the book away, but I promise that I am barely touching the surface. Okay, here goes:


“This is the dawning of the Age of the Aquarius…Aquarius! Aquarius!”. I’ve never had that song in my head, ever. Well, maybe the night after I saw the traveling pr

3.5 STARS Gosh, I really have mixed emotions about this latest Hoffman offering. The first part of the book did not initially draw me in or hold my interest, and it took almost half-way thru to see where the story was headed with any connection between Eddie and Coralie, the protagonists. There are great secondary characters though, particularly Maureen and Mr. Morris as well as the vile Professor Sardie (Coralie's father) who exploits every animal and human alike including his own daughter all ...more
Spellbinding! There is so much to captivate you here – the story, the language, the history, the characters, the construction of the plot and the narration devices - all are masterfully done.

The story of Coralie and Eddie is primarily book-ended by two actual events – the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911 and the Dreamland Amusement Park fire on Coney Island on May 27, 1911. Ms. Hoffman clearly did her research on these events – there is vivid detail here and so
I bought this on impulse and wish I hadn't.
While at times the writing the lovely, I found the subject matter distressing.
An ex magician runs a museum of "natural wonders" on Coney island, he's a vile and disgusting man who exploits everyone who works for him including his daughter.
There are so many ugly things in this book, parents who sell children, vulnerable people who are exploited, cruelty to animals, the cruelty of people to each other.
The book also contains lengthy descriptions of two re
Jun 24, 2014 Britany rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: gr
4.5 Stars! I really loved this book. The magic, the storytelling, the history, and the characters were spot on. At first, I didn't care for the constant Italic sections, but quickly got over that.

The chapters alternate between Coralie and Ed Cohen. Two broken individuals, each trapped in their respective lives, and needing each other to break free of the restrictions they've placed on themselves. The World is theirs...

Coralie, a child growing up with Professor Sardie in a house filled with oddit
Jan 23, 2014 Brittany rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of The Night Circus or Life After Life
How I Came To Read This Book: I received an ARC from the publisher to review for my blog.

The Plot: The story is told from two alternating perspectives. Each chapter is rather long, with the first half being told in first person, typically reflecting on past events, and the second half being told in a relatively omniscient third person. The entire story in the present takes place over about 3 months in the Spring of 1911. Coralie Sardie is the motherless daughter of the owner of a museum that hol
Melissa Crytzer Fry
It’s been years since I’ve read an Alice Hoffman book, and I’m reminded that I let far too much time pass (I fell in love with Here on Earth back in the 90s). I thoroughly enjoyed this book – from the extraordinary people and animals in the museum to the quirky habits and shared sadness of the main characters Coralie and Eddie.

This is the kind of book that can be read and enjoyed for its entertaining storyline alone – OR the kind of novel that, if you dig in a little and examine the words and co
This is my first Hoffman book. I had no interest in her earlier works, haven't yet read Dovekeepers (on my list), but was intrigued by this story. I'm from Long Island and grew up with Coney Island and its mythic shadow. So I'm coming at this reading as sort of a Hoffman virgin. And the book for me was well done enough that I enjoyed it and want to read Dovekeepers for sure.

What worked and didn't work? I guess from a fellow writer's pov, I know how hard it was for her to accomplish all she did.
Wow! This is such a captivating and fascinating story. There was everything from a girl who may be a fish, a boy photographer who is a Russian immigrant, Coney Island, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, love, friendship, abuse, and a one-hundred-year old turtle. What more could anyone want in a story? A mystery maybe, there is lots of that as well!
Oh my, what a beautifully written book. I loved this story of love and extraordinary things. Alice Hoffman is a genius. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. There's evil, suspense, love and uniqueness all wrapped up in this story. Elements of this book remind me of Winter's Tale and The Golem and the Jinni maybe because all three were set in NYC and the forbidden love aspect. Highly recommend!!!
Michelle {Book Hangovers}
Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman The Museum of Extraordinary Things Alice Hoffman My rating:5 of 5 starsCoralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's museum, alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle.One night Coralie stumbles up ...more
4.5 stars

Arc provided by Scribner through Netgalley

Told in dual points of view, The Museum of Extraordinary Things paints a vivid portrait of the american society in the beginning of the twentieth century.
In her unique voice, Alice Hoffman, mixes historical facts with her trademark magic realism storytelling.
Through memories of both main characters and the narrator's voice, she tells us of a time long gone, and episodes that most of us have ignored throughout our lifes.
The working conditions of
I am a sucker for a book that begins and ends with true historical events, in this case the Triangle Factory fire and the Dreamland park fire. Add to that the fact that Hoffman tells the story from the perspectives of two complex, likable, flawed chapters, and I found a winner.

1911 Brooklyn is the perfect backdrop for this dark, twisted tale. It has romance, mystery and historical facts. It's a story of extraordinary people in extraordinary times.

I love the alternating perspectives of Coralie an
This fascinating tale of historical fiction is set in New York City in 1911, a year of labour unrest and disastrous fires. The author has skilfully woven the lives of her fictitious characters into the events of the time.

The plot focuses primarily on the lives of a young Jewish photographer, Ezekiel "Eddie" Cohen (who had, as a boy, fled Europe with his father following the death of his mother) and a physically-deformed young woman, Coralie Sardie (whose father operates a side-show "museum" of n
I think that people can suprise you in so many ways, both with cruelty and with kindness.

I recently read The Dovekeepers by the same author, and I fell in love with it. I was hoping for the same experience with this book, but was dissapointed. Although I thought the chapters about the Triangle Fire was beautifully written, the rest of the story just did not have the same impact. I had problems connecting with the two main characters, but enjoyed some of the smaller roles - like Eastman and Maure
I associate Alice Hoffman with magical realism chick lit, along the lines of Sarah Addison Allen, but more consistent: small towns, magical powers, and, above all, charm -- a breathtaking departure from ordinary life. I know that she's branched out (The Dovekeepers is on my to-read list), but my experience with her prior to this novel has been Practical Magic, Here on Earth, and The Probable Future.

This novel, set in New York City in 1911, specifically on Coney and Manhattan islands, is very di
This is a story set in turn of the 20th century Brooklyn which literally immerses you into the era, specifically the plight of the immigrant workers in the garment sweatshops. They work horrendously long hours, including children, for very little money and are quite literally locked into the workshops so they cannot have any form of break – something which leads to tragedy in the form of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire – a true story which is interwoven into events here and in some respects ...more
Patti Henger
A brilliant work that can be described most succinctly as a study in the way people can be surprising in both their cruelty and kindness.

Hoffman has created a true work of beauty. The narrative is told through dual perspective- Coralie Sardie, the daughter of the eccentric and dark Professor Sardie who owns a cabinet of curiousities (freaks) on Coney Island. She lives an oppressively sheltered life, only receiving love and care from the housekeeper Maureen. Coralie believes her to be beautifu
Rebecca Foster
“The world is more varied and wondrous than most men understand.” Set on Coney Island in 1911, this novel is an interesting blend of elements that somehow never quite came together for me. Coralie Sardie, one of two main characters, is a foundling with webbed fingers. The Professor took her in and became her surrogate parent – but what kind of father forces his daughter to spend eight hours a day in the water as the mermaid act in a freak show, or (view spoiler) ...more
MaryannC.Book Fiend
I was a Goodreads First-Reads winner for this book. Ok, I really wanted to like this book more than I did, but I just couldn't feel anything for the characters. While I think the author has a nice way of writing, I just felt like I was reading a story that didn't really affect me. It was just there. The few things that did annoy me were the constant italics and the animal cruelty as another GR reader mentioned.
Kate Ayers
An absolutely wonderful book. Hoffman's pacing is spot on. Starts sort of slow, then builds steadily to the finale. This author creates such fully realized characters that you are convinced you've lived with them throughout the story. As much a mystery as a love story, it explores attitudes of men vs. women in the early part of the 20th Century. But that sounds so dull. It is far from dull. We follow Coralie as she blossoms into a woman, brought up by a cruel father who runs the Museum of Extrao ...more
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Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York ...more
More about Alice Hoffman...
The Dovekeepers Here on Earth Practical Magic The Red Garden The Ice Queen

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“(Love) walks up to you,and when it does, you need to recognize it for what it is and, perhaps more important, for what it might become.” 21 likes
“The truth frightens people because it isn't stable. It shifts every day.” 12 likes
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