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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
The “spellbinding” (People, 4 stars), New York Times bestseller from the author of The Dovekeepers: an extraordinary novel about an electric and impassioned love affair—“an enchanting love story rich with history and a sense of place” (USA TODAY).

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman and the Butterfly Girl. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking 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 community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance. And he ignites the heart of Coralie.

Alice Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a tender and moving story of young love in tumultuous times. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is, “a lavish tale about strange yet sympathetic people” (The New York Times Book Review).
  • Scribner | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451693577 | 
  • September 2014
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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

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.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Museum of Extraordinary Things includes an introduction and discussion questions for your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

Coralie Sardie grows up in her father’s “museum” on the Coney Island boardwalk where she appears as a living mermaid. Nightly swims in the Hudson River provide her only escape from her father’s influence. One night, she encounters a handsome photographer named Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has turned his back on his Orthodox community. When Eddie photographs the devastating Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, he is drawn into the mystery of a factory worker’s disappearance, and back to the Lower East side neighborhood he had abandoned. Set against the colorful, volatile world of early-twentieth-century New York City, Alice Hoffman’s latest novel is a love story as strange and fantastic as anything The Museum of Extraordinary Things holds.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The novel is framed by two spectacular fires. Why do you think the author chose to structure the novel this way? What effect does each fire have on the major characters and on the people of Manhattan and Brooklyn?
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About the Author

Alice Hoffman
© Deborah Feingold

Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. She lives near Boston.

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