- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 18 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: February 18, 2014
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00FZ45IN0
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Museum of Extraordinary Things: A Novel Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things is an extraordinary thing itself. Yes, it has all of the above elements, any one of which would make me pick it up in a bookstore and think about making a purchase. What it also has is a rich storyline, with engaging, complicated characters, and a trio of narrative voices that leave one hungry for more.
The first two characters I mentioned, the mermaid and the photographer, provide two of the narrative voices. The third is a traditional omniscient narrator. Each chapter opens in one of the two character voices, then transitions to the omniscient narrator. In odd-numbered chapters we get the mermaid. In even-numbered chapters we get the photographer. And each of the three voices sings, distinct and true, creating a story that lets us move in and out of the hearts of its characters, seeing events from multiple perspectives.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things balances dark and light. It’s full of menace, but never becomes hopeless. This is one of those novels that’s worth purchasing while it’s still only available in hardback.
The story moves back and forth between the lives of 2 characters - a young woman with webbed hands who is featured as a fish-girl in the Coney Island museum her father runs, and a young man who has abandoned his Jewish Orthodox upbringing, now working as a crime photographer on the fringes of society. Each of their stories is told in part in first person as if they are reminiscing about their past, and in part through a third person narrator. We know early on that these two are destined to be together, but they do not actually meet until the 60% into the book (I checked.) That was much too long of a lead-in for me, and I had almost abandoned the book before this. To be sure, it picked up in the last 40%, and the last few chapters made it almost worth it. But even in those, the writing and level of detail began to feel like an obstacle. So unfortunately for me this was just so-so overall, with both good points and bad points.
Alice Hoffman used to be one of my favorite authors before I started blogging. I’ve read many of her books (although not all—she’s written over thirty!), but as book bloggers know, once you start accepting books for review, many of your favorite authors fall by the wayside. But when this one came up on Edelweiss, I knew it was time to make time for Hoffman again. And I’m so glad I did. Reading The Museum of Extraordinary Things was like a balm on my soul. Hoffman’s familiar writing style is so comforting, and even though this book lacked the magic realism that she’s known for, I found myself loving every word.
The story takes place in Brooklyn, New York in the year 1911, but flashes back to the early lives of the two main characters, as we get to know more about their family histories. Coralie is eighteen and has been part of her father’s Museum of Extraordinary Things as a sideshow attraction for nearly half her life. She is the “human mermaid,” forced to wear a fake mermaid tale and swim in a tank of water for hours a day. At night, Coralie practices swimming in the freezing Hudson River in order to increase her lung capacity, while dreaming of an easier life that doesn’t include being exploited by her strict father.
Parallel to Coralie’s story we meet Eddie, a refugee from the Ukraine who has become adept at taking journalistic photographs of crime scenes. When Eddie is hired by a stranger to find a missing girl named Hannah, Eddie’s and Coralie’s lives become linked through a series of events. As Hoffman reveals bit by bit what happened to Hannah, the paths of Eddie and Coralie slowly come together, before the mystery is solved.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
amazing, held my interest. It offers a great view into NYC and Coney Island.Published 3 days ago by SB
I found this book to be very interesting. It was a book club pick.Published 5 days ago by silverbonbon
This novel held my interest throughout. I was especially interested in reading all of the actual events which did occur in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Gremily
This is my favorite book from last year's reading in my book group. This beautifully written story has everything... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Patty Berwald
Terribly dark book- I read it but didn't enjoy it- at least it ended betterPublished 9 days ago by Norma Casad
what an interesting story- so unusual and captivating- plus intertwined with real Brooklyn events makes the story so real and exciting, romantic and different.Published 10 days ago by michele
SUCH AN INTERESTING STORY. COULDN'T WAIT TO GET BACK TO THE STORY EACH NIGHT.Published 10 days ago by KAREN SCHWARTZMAN
Th is book brought new characters without any reference to other characters just read about and this i found confusing. It does thru out the book. Read morePublished 10 days ago by del