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The Museum of Extraordinary Things
por Alice Hoffman
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Mushy baroque overwrought fairytale sort of thing. But I liked it a little bit anyway- listened to it as an audiobook before bedtime.
Set in New York in the early 1900s, Coralie is the daughter of the unscrupulous proprietor of the Museum of Extraordinary Things in Coney Island, where “oddities” are displayed, such as used to be found in circus sideshows. Coralie was born with webbed hands, and she becomes one of her father’s exhibits. Eddie is a photographer who immigrated from Russia and has become estranged from his father. He investigates the (real) 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, in which one hundred forty-six workers died. His storyline and that of Coralie eventually converge.
This book is a mixed bag for me. It starts out well. I liked the historical elements, which are realistically described. The period details provide a sense of time and place. However, the independent storylines, filled with mostly unlikeable people, take a very long time to come together. The love story is far-fetched. It occurs instantly and the two spend very little time together, so there is no depth to their attraction. The father-daughter relationship is horrifying. The ending is preposterous.
3.5. The story is extremely well crafted, if a little too tidy. Very engaging for historical fiction. Excellent premise and story structure. Characters could have been great, but I feel they were held back. Loved the flow and symbolism of fire and water. Too much text in italics.
Why in god's name did I put this book on my physical TBR shelf? Please tell me I picked it up randomly at a library booksale for a quarter or something. I can't finish this boring book.
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"An extraordinarily imaginative and immersive novel, this one set in New York from 1911-1925"--
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Sistema Decimal Melvil (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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I'm also still a bit ambivalent about the narrative technique. Two first person narratives combined with a third person omniscient narrative was a bit of a challenge to follow. The first person narratives are also written completely in italics in my e-book version, which is kind of annoying in general--reading that much text in an italic font will make your eyes tired.
All in all it wasn't terrible, but I think my expectations were off point and that's what caused it to disappoint a bit. ( )