Published: February 18, 2014
Number of pages: 361
Genre: romance, mystery, historical fiction, feminism
Rating: older adults
Verdict: 5 hoots out of 5
Coralie Sardie is the daughter of a man who calls himself the Professor and owns the Museum of Extraordinary Things. Coralie is a brilliant swimmer and appears as the mermaid for her father’s show. Eddie Cohan is a photographer who ran away from his father to begin a new life in New York. Both of them meet at the Hudson River where Coralie is captivated by the sight of the handsome man and since that night of their encounter, Eddie has always dreamed of that mysterious girl. Tragic events strike New York and yet during these tumultuous times, there is young love between our heroes as they ignite each other’s hearts.
This book is magnificent and wonderfully told that by the time I read the first chapter I couldn’t keep my eyes off the page. Be warned that this isn’t a light read as there’s so much detail in every scene of the story as Alice Hoffman uses her words to paint a clear picture of 1911 New York while adding true events that happened during that time.
I enjoyed reading about our character’s history told in first-person point-of-view. Coralie and Eddie gives us a clear retelling of their past and present giving us their thoughts, feelings, and fears of the uncertainty that at most times, it felt like I was reading a diary entry. I love our heroes as they take center stage with the history of 1911 New York as the background of their love story. We’re introduced to true and tragic events including the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory that sparked demands for worker’s rights and the burning of Dreamland, both were landmarks in history and are the most pivotal scenes in the book.
I was immediately pulled in after reading Coralie’s account of her father’s museum and her childhood. Coralie a naïve and innocent girl understood that her only place in the world was to follow her father. The museum is her safe haven, but outside those walls is another world that she longs to explore but is held by her father’s captivity. However Coralie is not alone in her solitude as she is taken care for by Maureen, her only friend at the museum and a mother-like figure. As the story unfolds, Coralie grows from an obedient “good girl” to the rebellious young woman who is the heroine of our story. In actuality, it is her rebellious nature that she first encounters Eddie Cohan near the Hudson River. Eddie a photographer in New York witnessed the burning of the shirt factory, and is pulled into the mystery of the disappearance of a young woman. This is where the story gets twice as interesting as we’re introduced to a mystery intertwined with romance because as Eddie follows the clues, he meets the striking young Coralie who has ignited his heart and haunted his dreams as the beautiful woman in the woods at the Hudson River.
Readers often speak about novels that pull them in but this was a satisfying swim as we’re plunged into a beautiful tale that is part beauty and part history. I love how every character is interconnected and plays a significant role in the story. In the end, we’re left with a hopeful message from our heroes as they both learned a valuable lesson about love.