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The Museum of Extraordinary Things
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June 2018: Magical Realism > The Museum of Extraordinary Things / Alice Hoffman. 2.5 stars

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LibraryCin | 9066 comments 2.5 stars

This is set in the early 1900s in New York City. Coralie was born with webbed hands and she is an amazing swimmer. Her father runs the “Museum of Extraordinary Things”, which includes sideshow “freaks”. Coralie becomes a part of them, and feels she fits in with them. Eddie is a photographer.

I listened to the audio and there are three narrators: Coralie, Eddie, and a generic narrator (voiced by Judith Light). Of the story itself, only Coralie’s story interested me. (Which is why I have said next to nothing about Eddie in my summary, as I can’t tell you much more, as my mind wandered during his parts.) As for the audio, one thing that bothered me was Judith Light’s dialogue for any character – it seemed to me very staccato/robotic, but only when she was doing the dialogue. The audio includes a short interview/conversation (that kind of disintegrates into gushing about each other’s work at times) between Judith Light and Alice Hoffman. The book/story, though – really didn’t interest me all that much, though in addition to Coralie’s story, there were some interesting tidbits about the Triangle Factory fire.


Linda C (libladynylindac) | 1153 comments I read the book and really liked it. This may be a case where reading the book provided more depth than the narrated version. This was my review at the time I read it.

The Museum is a freak show run by Professor Sardie, seen through the eyes of his daughter, Coralie. Coralie has webbed hands and her father has been grooming her to be a feature in his show as a mermaid. She joins the show at 10.As she grows she begins to question her father's ethics and to rebel. The final break is his attempted creation of a new wonder for his show.

The other main character is a Russian Orthodox Jew who immigrated with his father at the age of 7. His father works in the clothing sweat shops. Ezekiel gradually grows away from his father and his religion, changing his name to Ed and joining a band of kids who assist a fake psychic locate missing persons. He becomes one of the best finders but feels hollow until he meets a photographer and falls in love with photography. This culminates into his photographing the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire and a request to locate a girl who is missing. This search brings him and Coralie together.

What a great picture this was of the time and of Coney Island. The immigrant experience and the world of fantasy where people escaped to forget their lives. My only quibble is that the second half of the book seemed to be rushed and the ending neatly tied up everything. But still a great read.


I must say that I am not a fan of magical realism but I have found a few authors who write in this field that I do like and Hoffman is one.


LibraryCin | 9066 comments I have liked other books by Hoffman, but maybe you're right. Maybe the audio made a difference for this one.


message 4: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 9352 comments I like this one. And you know I like all of her works. But because I found somebody have her work is absolutely stunning, this one was slightly lower down on the list for me. I don’t know if audio would have made a difference. I’m not an audio person. I can say the descriptions were so interesting to imagine.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I have this on my list of books I want to read from Alice Hoffman. I really loved her writing style in the Dovekeepers. Maybe it was the audiobook. I know so many love to listen to books. I've given up after three. For me I get lost but when I read the book I am far more engaged and have discovered I enjoy the book so much more.


LibraryCin | 9066 comments Rachel wrote: "I have this on my list of books I want to read from Alice Hoffman. I really loved her writing style in the Dovekeepers. Maybe it was the audiobook. I know so many love to listen to books. I've give..."

It depends on the book for me. Some of them, I can become really engrossed in!


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

LibraryCin wrote: "Rachel wrote: "I have this on my list of books I want to read from Alice Hoffman. I really loved her writing style in the Dovekeepers. Maybe it was the audiobook. I know so many love to listen to b..."

So many people love them! I wish I could listen to them. I'm glad you can become engrossed in them! Thats the way book should be!


LibraryCin | 9066 comments It does depend on the book, for sure! But, I do like that I can get in more reading by also listening (while doing housework, yardwork, or just walking (I don't drive)).


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I've moved recently to a smaller college town and this is why I tried audiobooks. I walk everywhere now and wish I could get more reading in this way. I won't stop trying. I'm holding out for the book that will keep me in this way. I've thought about trying Harry Potter with audiobook. Its been on my list to read for years and I think I may be the only person around who has not read these books.:)


message 10: by JoLene (last edited Jun 17, 2018 10:09AM) (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Rachel, you aren the only one. I am slowly making my way through the audio books of HP now. I am listening to #5. Jim Dale is a great narrator, but his voice for Hermione bugs me a bit.


message 11: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments Stephen Fry reading HP is fabulous!!


LibraryCin | 9066 comments JoLene wrote: "Rachel, you aren the only one. I am slowly making my way through the audio books of HP now. I am listening to #5. Jim Dale is a great narrator, but his voice for Her Ione bugs me a bit."

His voice for Hermione (and other female characters) was a big reason why I wasn't a fan of the HP audios!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

JoLene wrote: "Rachel, you aren the only one. I am slowly making my way through the audio books of HP now. I am listening to #5. Jim Dale is a great narrator, but his voice for Her Ione bugs me a bit."
Its good to know I'm not the lone soul who has yet to read Harry Potter.:) Its been on my agenda for a few years and I just haven't gotten around to them. Maybe this is the year. I may just read the books.


message 14: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3834 comments I love the Jim Dale version of HP, but those were my first audiobooks ever (in middle school/elementary school). Will 100% vouch for these though!!


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