The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman is a historical fiction novel that revolves around two very real events, The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25, 1911, and the Coney Island Dreamland fire of May 26, 1911.
Coralie Sardie is forced by her father to be the "human mermaid" in an actual tank in his Museum of Extraordinary Things located on Coney Island. This "museum" acts as a sort of freak show, and is filled with extraordinary humans. One day, a photographer named Eddie Cohen finds himself at Coralie's museum while searching for a missing girl, and love is found in the most unexpected circumstances (Hoffman's specialty).
I just loved the setting, early 1900's, New York. I mean, who doesn't love old, old school New York? And the novel was just so...real. And magical. I also enjoyed how each chapter began with a flash back to the childhood of either Coralie or Eddie, and then moved forward to the
events of 1911, because we were able to learn much about each of these character's pasts as we read about the present. And the imagery created by Hoffman is just fantastic. I can't say enough good things about this book.