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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

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New York Times bestseller

From the beloved, bestselling author of The Dovekeepers, a mesmerizing new novel about the electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century.

Coney Island: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man photographing moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as an apprentice tailor. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance.

With its colorful crowds of heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling and tender story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is Hoffman at her most spellbinding.


Praise

“Spellbinding…Hoffman’s penchant for the magical is on full display in this world filled with rogues, strivers, corrupt politicians, Gilded Age riches and debilitating poverty. The chaos and grandeur of New York City at the time make it a character in its own right, as monstrous and intoxicating as the circus sideshow that traps Coralie and makes her a star.”
People Magazine, Read full review

“A richly textured work balancing magical realism with historical fact…in Hoffman’s spellbinding tale, the New York City of 1911 straddles the past and the present: electricity has begun ‘snaking through Brooklyn, turning night into day,’ the woods of upper Manhattan are giving way to sidewalks and streets, and factory owners will stop at nothing to keep prices low and workers marginalized. In a gritty nation on the brink of profound change, there is always the chance that something miraculous can happen—as when Coralie and Eddie meet and find not just love, but hope.”
O, The Oprah Magazine, Read full review

“A lavish tale about strange yet sympathetic people, haunted by the past and living in bizarre circumstances…Once Coralie and Eddie discover each other, their profound, mystical attraction and mutual obsession become forces of their own, driving the story forward…Imaginative…a big, entertaining tale.”
New York Times Book Review, Read full review

“The year 1911 had an apocalyptic feel in New York City as fire devastated the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Greenwich Village and destroyed the amusement park Dreamland that rose above Coney Island. Manhattan wasn’t yet entirely tamed by concrete and people still believed in the fantastical. Alice Hoffman, whose brand of magic realism really should have a patent pending, makes lovely work of the era in her new city-centric novel, The Museum of Extraordinary Things.”
New York Daily News, Read full review

“Alice Hoffman’s storytelling magic is on abundant display in her new novel, which folds a romance and a tightly plotted mystery within a brilliant portrait of the splendors and miseries of New York during a pivotal year in the city’s history. It’s a pleasure to report this return to top form by Hoffman… Hoffman expertly weaves the future lovers’ monologues with a third-person account moving through the spring of 1911 to create a wonderfully rich narrative tapestry. Her prose is as lyrically beautiful as ever, evoking the teeming complexity of New York … The action-packed story line sweeps through labor strife, a missing Triangle worker eventually fished from the Hudson, the exposure of her murderer and a bravura plot twist that reveals the truth about Coralie’s mother.”
Newsday, Read full review

“In this, her 29th novel — 29th! — Alice Hoffman’s inventiveness and style show no fatigue. Quite the contrary, in fact. Whatever you might desire from a novel, it’s here: a mermaid, a wolf, a scary hermit, a dead girl made up to look like a river monster, a bird girl, an ex-con good guy and a thoroughly blackhearted villain, not to mention two passionate lovers.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Read full review

“Fans of Hoffman will not be disappointed. Lush imagery, extensive use of period details, well-drawn, and vivid prose make this a sumptuous read…a rich reading experience.”
The Seattle Times, Read full review

“Novelist Alice Hoffman employs her trademark alchemy of finding the magical amid the ordinary in her mesmerizing new novel…Hoffman is expert at depicting people who are often considered life’s ‘others’: outsiders, the lonely, the grief-stricken…if you’re looking for an enchanting love story rich with history and a sense of place, step right up to The Museum of Extraordinary Things.”
USA Today, Read full review

“Hoffman breathes fiery life into an enrapturing fairy tale and historical fiction mash-up… Hoffman unveils both horror and magic in this transfixing tale of liberation and love in a metropolis of lies, yearning, and metamorphosis.”
Booklist starred review, Read full review

“With a sprinkling of magical realism, Hoffman blends social realism, historical fiction, romance and mystery in fast-paced and dramatic novel filled with colorful characters and vivid scenes of life in New York more than a century ago.”
Library Journal

“Classic Hoffman: a bewitching world of time and place (in this case, Coney Island and its boardwalk freak show in the early 1900s) suffused with magical moments, a mysterious disappearance and romance.”
Family Circle, Read full review

“In Hoffman’s portrait of its great and tormented beauty, New York shines as a wonder of the world in its savage grace…Mysteries and magical realism are matched by characters (of two- and four-legged and winged variety) that leap off the page. The darkness of The Museum of Extraordinary Things is pierced by ineffable moments of grace. Art saves lives, but only love (always an achievement) redeems them. Alice Hoffman is a national treasure.” Read the full review
The Historical Novel Society, Read full review

“[Hoffman is] a master of craft and a lover of language. Each sentence shows precision and deliberation…’ The Museum of Extraordinary Things’ lives up to the ‘extraordinary’ of its title, a work of passion that celebrates a place and an era even while it explores a particularly dark moment in New York’s history.”
The Savannah Morning News, Read full review

“A winding, redemptive romance set against the backdrop of a New York City on the verge of social revolution.”
Savannah Chronicle, Read full review

“Hoffman masterfully creates two characters of depth and emotion in Eddie and Coralie…[she] does not disappoint."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Read full review

“One thing’s for sure. Alice Hoffman knows how to tell a story. The Museum of Extraordinary Things takes us to the New York City of 1911… She’s also first-rate at describing the people who populate that world, particularly the three main characters—the professor; his daughter; Coralie and Eddie… In her latest, Hoffman gives us extraordinary things and extraordinary times. And more.”
The Artery, 90.9 WBUR, Boston’s NPR, Read full review

“The Museum of Extraordinary Things is the mesmerizing new novel about the electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the twentieth century.”
Red Carpet Crash

“In The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Alice Hoffman mounts an arresting display: a New York City tale rich with literary inspiration, history, and urban legend. Readers often talk about being immersed in novels; this is a satisfying swim in tidal waters. Take the plunge.”
Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Out of Oz

“Alice Hoffman understands and delivers the ordinary and the extraordinary in this contemporary novel of the past. As always, her powerful, elegant prose embraces tremendous passion with constant, clear-eyed compassion.”
Amy Bloom, author of Away

“As always, Alice Hoffman amazes me with her ability to use words the way other master artists use watercolors, painting the dreamlike world of a girl who grows up in a hall of wonders only to learn that something as ordinary as love is the greatest marvel of all. Many novels these days are called ‘stunning’ but this one truly IS: part love story, part mystery, part history, and all beauty.”
Jodi Picoult, author of The Storyteller and Lone Wolf

“Hoffman breathes fiery life into an enrapturing fairy tale and historical fiction mash-up… Hoffman unveils both horror and magic in this transfixing tale of liberation and love in a metropolis of lies, yearning, and metamorphosis.”
Donna Seaman, Booklist starred review