Published: 24th April 2014
Publishers: Simon & Schuster
Coney Island, 1911: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of a self-proclaimed scientist and professor who acts as the impresario of The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show offering amazement and entertainment to the masses. An extraordinary swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl,and a 100 year old turtle, in her father’s “museum”. She swims regularly in New York’s Hudson River, and one night stumbles upon a striking young man alone in the woods photographing moon-lit trees. From that moment, Coralie knows her life will never be the same. The dashing photographer Coralie spies is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community. As Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and the dispute between factory owners and labourers. In the tumultuous times that characterized life in New York between the world wars, Coralie and Eddie’s lives come crashing together in Alice Hoffman’s mesmerizing, imaginative, and romantic new novel.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for kindly sending me a review copy. I absolutely love the cover, I mean, how can you not love it? From first glance, it had more of a circus feel than a museum feel. Throughout the entire book, it didn’t really have the museum feel to me.
Coralie has grown up following her Father’s instructions but not like other girls. He purposely shaded her away from normality and into his magical world. But it’s when she’s ten years old that she becomes part of the museum. Coralie’s personality wasn’t there in my opinion. She didn’t have a life of her own and therefore, her personality was no existent.
As the plot descends back to March 1911, readers are given a strong understanding of Coralie’s life. I know there a lot of readers who absolutely loved this book, but if I’m completely honest, I didn’t quite understand the hype. As fantastic and shocking as the plot was, it just didn’t click with me I’m afraid.