- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; Export edition (12 Mar. 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1471139328
- ISBN-13: 978-1471139321
- Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.6 x 11.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 115 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Museum of Extraordinary Things Paperback – 12 Mar 2015
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From the Inside Flap
Meet Coralie Sardie, circus girl, web-fingered mermaid, shy only daughter of Professor Sardie and raised in the bizarre surroundings of his Museum of Extraordinary Things. And meet Eddie Cohen, a handsome young immigrant who has run away from his painful past and his Orthodox family to become a photographer, documenting life on the teeming city streets. One night by the freezing waters of the Hudson River, Coralie stumbles across Eddie, who has become enmeshed in the case of a missing girl, and the fates of these two hopeful outcasts collide as they search for truth, beauty, love and freedom in tumultuous times.See all Product description
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So many of the themes explored in this book have been looked at before, but put together their stories interlinked add up to a story of wonder.
A world where wonder was anywhere , as what was possible expanded exponentially , and sadly exploited. But the real wonder was the fight to right the wrongs , and rights for all be bravely battled for. For humanity is truly expressed in the right to live and love and be loved.
However, as the book goes on I started getting, to be honest, confused. Why is each chapter divided into a first person and third person section? It seems there's no reason. Each chapter also seems to be from the perspective of one of the two main characters, but every now and then slips into the frame of someone else. There's a lot of mystery hinted at throughout the book, but none of it turns into anything tangible. Same goes for a lot of the plot strands. They're there and then they're either tied up or left unsatisfactorily and you're left wondering what was the point.
This isn't the type of book to really focus too much on plot holes, but I will say there are some points where characters act completely at odds with how they've been so far portrayed purely for the author's convenience and that there is a great disconnect between what we're led to believe will happen early on in the book and what actually comes to pass.
As mentioned, I thought the writing was so, so good. It's just a shame it had nowhere to go.
Coralie is born with a slight physical impairment and is exploited by her father, self-proclaimed professor of science and curator of a museum of curiosities. To add to her mystique she is kept apart from others, growing up solitary and self-conscious.
Eddie is a Jewish immigrant, brought to New York was a child by his father following the death of his mother. Her loss and the traumas of the journey impact Eddie profoundly, but not as much as his father’s seeming inability to cope with either - the boy Eddie is made to feel responsible for his father’s well-being. One day Eddie just walks away, choosing a life apart from his faith and his community.
The novel follows the stories of these two protagonists, both drawn in subtle, sensitive prose, as they make their inexorable way toward one another. Set against the bustling, colourful, emerging cities of New York and Manhattan, this is the coming of age story of two lost souls and also of a place. I loved the descriptions of the wild places by the Hudson river, the swamps and rough open commons being gradually swallowed by the metropolis, the wild creatures and wilder men being pushed to the edge of existence.
The story is written in a variety of narrative forms; the first and in the third person. In the first person sections it was hard to tell which character was speaking. The first person sections were italicised - I really disliked that. I could see no reason and no benefit for it. I wished the writer had had the courage of her own narrative voice to tell their stories. Her voice and story-telling in the third person sections was much more compelling.
This is an unusual book and I cannot think of much that compares with it. The Night Circus, perhaps, by Erin Morgenstern, or North of Here by Laurel Saville.
I loved the setting. I really enjoyed fiction set in circuses, freak shows, funland’s and those sorts of places. They have huge potential. The author brings the setting to life. Coney Island and the sideshows and exhibits become a place of mystery and wonder if a little sinister and creepy.
I loved the characters. I liked how the novel alternated between Coralie and Eddie’s perspective, showing how their two lives become gradually, fatally linked. Coralie and Eddie are great characters. I also loved the other people Coralie encounters growing up at her father’s museum.
Coralie’s father is a horrible person. His exhibit is little more than a freak show, and one he rules with sheer cruelty. I was horrified when Coralie, with her deformed hands becomes a mermaid at the museum. What kind of monster could do that to his child. He does worse and my flesh crawled at times.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things is not an easy book to read. Coralie’s father is a monster. The book is, however, a joy to read.
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They make it difficult to read. I'm surprised that more people haven't commented on them.