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Sandy's March 2014 pick
The Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman's darkest fairy tale yet. Set in New York City (Brooklyn/Coney Island) at the turn of the 20th century, the setting is a "museum" of bizarre oddities (2-headed goat, 100 yr old tortoise, etc.) with a sideshow of the wolfman, the fire-eater, etc. The 2 main characters are a young Jewish photographer who has forsaken his heritage, and a young girl with webbed fingers who has been made into an erstwhile mermaid by her unscrupulous guardian. It has elements of The Night Circus (young woman exploited by her evil father), the Brothers Grimm, and Dennis Lehane (labor unrest and a corrupt government). It's a great love story. Love conquers evil. I loved it!
“Hoffman's latest work of fiction is a tour de force of imagination which, at the same time, builds a world so real and present that the reader senses a tangible reality. The setting is New York and Brooklyn in 1911, where sideshow 'curiosities,' Russian emigre Jews, the emerging workers unions, and the lost, wild beauty of Manhattan's rivers and woods blend into a dream. Hoffman's research is precise, her vision unique, and her writing extraordinarily evocative. This is a beautiful and sensitive novel.”
— Karen Pennington, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA
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