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Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things

June 10, 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman is the story of two people who, against the odds, fall in love.  Coralie has webbed fingers – her father has pushed her to hone her swimming skills so she can perform as a mermaid in his Coney Island freak show.  She’s isolated from most people but happens upon Eddie taking pictures in the woods one evening.  Eddie has run away from his father and his religion.  He took photos in the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and has become enlisted to help find a girl who’s been missing since the fire.

Coralie and Eddie have many obstacles to overcome to make their love work – can she get away from her father and will he be able to forget his past?  Part romance and part historical mystery with a touch of magical realism, The Museum of Extraordinary Things is told from the points of view of Coralie, Eddie, and an omniscient narrator so readers are fully immersed.

I really wanted to love this book but ended up liking it instead.  I thought the characters and the story were great but I had trouble buying Eddie and Coralie’s relationship, especially at the beginning.  Magical realism is hit or miss for me and I didn’t think it added anything to this story, but I have a feeling I’m in the minority.  If you enjoy magical realism, you’ll probably love The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

The audio version is narrated by Judith Light, Grace Gummer, and Zach Appelman and they all did a wonderful job.  The fabulous narration kept me invested in this story and enhanced it for me.  The audio book is on 10 CDs and lasts approximately 11 and a half hours.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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32 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2014 5:48 am

    I read your review twice to get the feel for this book. Didn’t do anything for me either on the second time around even.

  2. June 10, 2014 7:34 am

    I don’t really like magical realism… may skip this one. Thanks for the review.

  3. June 10, 2014 8:13 am

    I have had the same reaction to any book I have read by this author – wanting to love it, but only liking it.

  4. Patty permalink
    June 10, 2014 8:24 am

    I love magic in anything but not sure I would like this one! That’s why I love your reviews!

  5. June 10, 2014 10:38 am

    Oh dang, I already have this on my kindle for awhile but haven’t read yet and now I don’t know if I would enjoy it. I actually have read several of Ms. Hoffman’s earlier books and enjoyed them, not excellent for me, but very good. I am disappointed in what this book is about. I picked it up on author name alone–thanks.

  6. bookingmama permalink
    June 10, 2014 10:55 am

    I have issues with magic realism too. I bet Judith Light was fantastic on audio though!

  7. June 10, 2014 11:02 am

    I’ve never read Alice Hoffman. Sounds like this is not the book to start with… do you have another you like better?

  8. June 10, 2014 11:18 am

    Sorry this one wasn’t a home run for you, but at least you liked it! I think I have it in ebook format somewhere ’round here.

  9. June 10, 2014 11:38 am

    magical realism is hit and miss with me as well.

  10. June 10, 2014 12:21 pm

    I really like Alice Hoffman’s writing–at least the little I’ve read by her. I haven’t yet read this one, but hope to. I am sorry you didn’t love this one, Kathy, but at least you liked it! That’s much better than hating it. 🙂

  11. June 10, 2014 1:14 pm

    Yep, it felt a little flat to me. I liked the premise but didn’t feel that it really went anywhere.

  12. June 10, 2014 1:31 pm

    I’m not sure. I tend to like magical realism but it has to be a good story, too.

  13. June 10, 2014 4:23 pm

    Hm, well at least one Hoffman book I will try one day

  14. June 10, 2014 4:58 pm

    I have heard a lot about Alice Hoffman’s books but I haven’t yet had a chance to try one. I guess this one is not the right one to start with.

  15. June 10, 2014 5:38 pm

    I still haven’t read any Hoffman! Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, Kathy.

  16. June 10, 2014 8:19 pm

    It has been awhile since I read Alice Hoffman…. I started to tire of her brand of magical realism. But I may give this one a try this year!
    (Leila @ Readers’ Oasis )

  17. June 10, 2014 9:02 pm

    I listened to this and haven’t reviewed it yet –wanted more as well

  18. June 10, 2014 9:35 pm

    It’s been quite some time since I’ve read anything by Hoffman. I enjoyed Turtle Moon, Here on Earth and the Blue Diary (all pre-blogging days), but none have knocked my socks off. I have Survival Lessons in my stacks and can’t wait to spend a quiet afternoon with this work of nonfiction. I think, however, I’ll pass on The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Doesn’t sound like my kind of book.

  19. June 10, 2014 10:47 pm

    Magical realism…don’t think I’d like it much!

  20. talesofwhimsy permalink
    June 10, 2014 11:02 pm

    I love magical realism. I used to adore Alice Hoffman. I have from time to time not loved her work. but usually I realllly dig it. So going to try this one.

  21. June 10, 2014 11:18 pm

    This one doesn’t attract me at all for some reason.

  22. June 11, 2014 1:28 am

    I’ll have to give the audio a shot. I’m so-so on magical realism though the concept appeals to me.

  23. June 11, 2014 10:52 am

    I finally placed the name! I read Practical Magic – the movie is one of my guilty pleasures. Usually the book is better than the movie (or amazing but wildly different like with Hayao Miyazaki). Practical Magic was one of my first experiences where I thought the movie was much better than the book. The book never seemed to figure itself out.

    Sigh – I loved the title and the cover. Now I have to avoid it like the plague because I know that I will be disappointed.

  24. June 11, 2014 10:54 am

    I have this one to listen to but have not started it yet. I am hoping I enjoy it as well.

  25. June 11, 2014 12:12 pm

    I’ve had this on my TBR list and am now going to take it off. I’m not a huge magical realism fan, so I don’t think I’d love this one!

  26. June 11, 2014 2:32 pm

    I have problems with magical realism too, although sometimes it does work for me. I thought I’d wait for the reviews before deciding whether to read it. And now I’m thinking it won’t work for me either.

  27. June 11, 2014 5:24 pm

    I do love magical realism and it is what intrigued me about this book. It’s nice that you still liked it despite what didn’t work for you!

  28. June 11, 2014 11:17 pm

    I’ve only read a few of her books, some I loved and some I thought too silly. This looks like it may lean to the too silly side.

  29. June 12, 2014 8:07 am

    I enjoyed the trailer. I was curious about this book. Thanks for your review.

  30. June 12, 2014 6:30 pm

    I’m listening to this one right now. I’m liking this one more than the last few I have read by Hoffman, but still don’t love it.

  31. Beth F permalink
    June 13, 2014 7:28 am

    Magical realism is usually a miss for me.

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