Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf ~ Featuring Alice Hoffman and Ann-Marie MacDonald

By Lynn Willoughby

The Museum of Ordinary Things ~ Alice Hoffman

Coralie is the daughter of The Professor, a dark, sinister, tyrannical master of a freak show on Coney Island in the early 1900s. Coralie is the “Mermaid” who performs daily alongside the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, a one hundred year old turtle, plus other oddities. Some are genetic mutations, many are manufactured by The Professor, who is not only a superb showman, but an excellent con man.

A young photographer, Eddie Cohen, makes a name for himself photographing the infamous Triangle Shirt Factory fire – where hundreds of young women jump to their death, with hair and clothes aflame. The doors and windows of the factory are locked on each floor. The owners are never held accountable.

Of course, Eddie and Coralie meet and their tumultuous love story evolves while the story continues with the “colourful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs and idealists.” A hermit, a wolf, new immigrants and an Orthodox Jewish community also play a part in this story. Are you intrigued yet? It will take a master story teller to pull this all together!

This is an interesting read about an interesting era in New York City. However, I did enjoy Hoffman’s previous novel, “The Dovekeepers“, much more. If you read and enjoyed “The Night Circus” you will love this novel.

  • The Story Sisters
  • The River King

………and many others

Adult Onset ~ Ann-Marie MacDonald

I really liked this author’s previous works, although none are light and easy reading. This is no exception. It is filled with dark secrets, abuse, judgements and bad memories.

Mary Rose is a successful author of children’s bonks when she and her partner Hilary decide to adopt children of their own. Mary Rose (Mister) is the stay at home mom and is not at all the archetype of domestic life. She is obsessively concerned for her children’s safety. she buys only organic food – until she runs out of patience and stops at McDonald’s (who hasn’t?) She is increasingly angry. Maybe domesticity is really not the apex of her life she thought it would be.

No one around her can get close – not Hil, not her friend Gigi, certainly not her sister or brother. Her father sends her an email and she cannot reply. She is unraveling and when she is filled with rage while trying to put boots on a two year old, she scares herself.

MR loses track of time. She thought she bought tulips but she has none, She is lonely. She is dealing with elderly parents and a mother sliding into a date with Alzheimer’s disease. She is often alone with the children as Hil is out of town. Her creativity is drying up. Her publisher is after her to produce another book.

There is a lot of hand wringing and teeth gnashing in this novel and at times it gets tiresome. But like all of us, there are things lurking in MR’s past that she cannot escape. Will power enables us to do a lot of things, but every day we move through a …”fog of memories.”

Insomnia, the boredom of being caregiver to two small children, forgetfulness, physical pain, the stress of dealing with her brother – all are a part of a week in the life of MR. Nothing new here, and for me there are better books out there dealing with these issues.

  • Fall on Your Knees
  • As the Crow Flies

……….and others

Who Knew?

Bone cysts are a non-cancerous bone tumour that affects children. Many are never discovered unless by x-ray, usually obtained for another reason. They most often occur in just one bone and do not metastasize to other parts of the body.

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