The Museum of Extraordinary Things
By Alice Hoffman
(Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781451693560, February 2014, 368pp.)
The Short of It:
Freak shows typically grab my attention but the oddities contained within these pages piqued my interest but failed to impress me.
The Rest of It:
The museum in question, is a Coney Island attraction run by Professor Sardie. Sardie is part magician, part scientist but mostly a con artist with a knack for finding wayward souls. All of his “attractions” are mainly people afflicted by some horrible disfigurement. If the affliction is not obvious enough to garner huge crowds, then he helps them “transform” into something that is.
This way of thinking applies to his ten-year-old daughter, Coralie as well. Born with webbed fingers, she is dyed blue and taught to swim long distances and to hold her breath for long periods of time so she can become the Human Mermaid.
As the surrounding area attractions become bigger and better, Sardie is forced to up his game and resorts to “after hour” shows which feature his daughter, naked. Yes, he is that kind of man. Their relationship is tenuous at best, but the forced humiliation of having to perform, naked, is not something she can ever forgive him for.
There is a lot of stuff going on in this novel but none of it seemed thoroughly developed to me. Hoffman piques my interest in a lot of places but none of it seems to come together all that well and that, ultimately, is what made this an okay read, as opposed to a riveting one.
I don’t know about you but I am fascinated by freak shows and oddities of nature so although this wasn’t a complete success for me, I still enjoyed it enough to want to read her work again.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.
12 thoughts on “Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things”
Haven’t read this one yet, but plan too. That having been said, freak shows and oddities of natures, don’t appeal to me, but I do like Hoffman, so I’ll be curious to see how this one goes.
I always appreciate your thoughts about books. I don’t think I want to read this one, though…lol…
Like Diane, I enjoy Hoffman’s writing and want to read this one based on that more than the subject matter. My interest in these sorts of attractions depend a lot on the story told around them.
Bummer! I’m sorry this one didn’t come together better for you. Hoffman books always have a great premise, but I tend to favor her connected short story collections.
Hmm, I haven’t seen this book before, but I wish it was better for you.
Your “short of it” is totally the best! :–) And captures pretty much what I have heard elsewhere…
I haven’t read any Hoffman book yet, but quite a few people seem to like her books. I figure her books are not going to be my cup of tea, so haven’t really ventured into them.
Yeah, she is not usually my thing because she typically writes magical realism but the setting intrigued me. I have a thing for cheesy boardwalks. LOL.
I’ve been looking forward to this so I’m disappointed that it’s not more developed.
I’m not certain I could read this one and not want to throttle that father! How horrible!
What a disappointment – it has such potential.
I saw this in the bookstore. The cover piqued my interest. But I’m not one crazy about freak shows. So thanks for this review. Probably too far-fetched for me. 😉