Saturday, May 31, 2014

the museum of extraordinary things

the museum of extraordinary things
alice hoffman
historical fiction/romance
published 2014

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island 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 stiking young man taking pictures of 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 a tailor's apprentice.  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 and ignites the heart of Coralie.

I was incredibly disappointed in this book.  I admit, my opinion is colored in the fact that I don't usually enjoy historical novels, but really it was not a good book.  I think Alice Hoffman wanted to badly to write about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the fire of Dreamland in 1911 that she completely neglected the plot.  This was touted as a the story of two characters who come together and fall in love while surrounded by the mystery of a missing girl and while, for the brief moment Eddie was searching for the girl it was interesting.  And then, she wrapped that up with hardly a peep in a couple of pages and that was the end of that.  After that it was all about the fire of Dreamland.  Even that was disjointed and hard to follow.  I couldn't figure out how everyone ended up where they were and the culmination of the horrors in the book all come down to one short moment with hardly any fanfare at all.  It was a let down.

And as far as the love story was concerned, it was a joke.  I felt nothing for either character.  I could care less how they got together - which happens so far into the book I was beginning to think they book jacket lied to me.  Flat, unsympathetic, boring characters, and unrealistic relationships (Coralie and her father, Coralie and Maureen, Coralie and Eddie).  The characters I enjoyed (Beck, Ella, the liveryman, and Mr. Morris), the characters she wrote to have fire and substance were background characters we hardly got to see.  It felt like she poured all character into these roles and didn't save anything for Coralie and Eddie.

The writing itself was confusing and repetitious.  With the three different narratives the timeline jumped around oddly and there was so much overlapping that I sometimes thought I had accidentally jumped a previous chapter on the kindle.

A disappointment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

leave me some love. or hate. don't mind either, but if you leave the hate be prepared. i bite back.

Disqus for know-it-not-so-much