The Museum Of Extraordinary Things Summary & Study Guide Description
The Museum of Extraordinary Things Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis tohelp you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the owner of The Museum of Extraordinary Things: a man known as the Professor. She grew up on Coney Island in New York during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Professor Sardie had strange views about health and fitness and forced Coralie to swim in the sea every night during the summer months and to take ice baths during the winter. Although their home was attached to the museum, Coralie was not allowed to go inside or look at any of the exhibitions before her tenth birthday because her father feared that the specimens and human performers on display would be too harrowing and distressing for a child. The Professor employed numerous humans with unusual appearances to perform in the museum. On Coralies tenth birthday the Professor revealed that she was to become one of the performers The Human Mermaid because of the webbed skin on her hands.
Transformation And Starting Again
Although both Eddie and Coralie undergo several transformations in character throughout the course of the novel, the reader is given a sense that their survival of the museum fire forges them anew and prepares them to enter the world as entirely different people from who they were before. When Eddie, Coralie, and Mitts emerge from the water tankthe physical embodiment of Coralies old lifeit is as if they have been reborn. Mitts can no longer behave as his free-spirited, energetic former self and now has a crippling fear of the water. Eddie, on the other hand, comes to drink eight glasses of water every night, associating it with the woman he loves and who saved his life.
The destruction of the museum and her fathers manuscript symbolically frees Coralie from her previous life, which belonged to a woman without a strong sense of her self or her destiny. In a farewell letter to Maureen, Coralie writes,
In my memories I have set my life in Brooklyn between pieces of glass, separate from my current existence, and this has enabled me to move forward. The past cannot tie me in knots, nor can it reach for me and cause me to drown.
The Essence Of Humanity
The Museum of Extraordinary Things itself, as well as the many other freak show performances on Coney Island, serves as a powerful symbol of the hypocrisy and wretchedness that defines many of the more well-to-do people of New York. The inhuman, monstrous appearance of the individuals who sell themselves to the public is reflected by the similarly monstrous nature of the spectators who pay money to see them. This is evident, for example, in the many potential suitors who offer Coralies father large sums of money to sleep with her. Their desire has no connection with genuine love or attachment but rather stems entirely from her freakishness in and of itself, from a depraved and wicked thrill nurtured by the thought of conquering her bestial sexuality. The reader is left to wonder whether it is Coralie or the men who court her who is the real monster.
We can also see the contradictions of humanity in Coralies interactions with Raymond Morris, the Wolfman, who works for the museum for a brief period. By all accounts, Mr. Morris is the most well-read man who works for Coralies father, and perhaps one of the most intelligent men in the city. He thoroughly enjoys reading any literature he can get his hands on, can recite the poetry of Shakespeare by heart, and often quotes fragments from Poe or Whitman when engaging in gentle colloquy. He quickly captures the intense curiosityand fearof the crowds. When recalling her interactions with the Wolfman, Coralie states:
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The Museum Of Extraordinary Things: A Novel
A love story set in the dark and magical circus-sideshow world of early 20th-century America.
As soon as I opened Alice Hoffmans The Museum of Extraordinary Things, I faced a mystery. The thoughtful reviews of Hoffmans work on the back cover sounded a bit at odds with the somewhat hyperbolic jacket copy inside the flap, leading me to wonder what kind of novel I was about to read. Would I be immersed in the powerful, elegant and arresting work praised by her reviewers? Or would this be the rollicking period yarn promised by the inside flap, featuring a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times between the daughter of the museums sinister impresario and a dashing photographer hero, amidst the colorful crowds of heiresses, thugs, and idealists of old New York?
In the aftermath of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, Eddie is called upon to use his sleuthing skills to look for a missing girl whose old Jewish father doesnt believe she was killed in the fire. His search reveals an ominous connection to the Museum of Extraordinary Things, where his path collides with Coralie. They fall in love and while Eddie works to solve the mystery of the girls disappearance, Coralie confronts her fathers increasingly sinister measures to keep his museum afloat and her under his thumb.
The Museum Of Extraordinary Things
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