“The Manikin” by Joanna Scott

155141The Manikin is the curious estate of Henry Craxton, Sr. in a rural western New York State. Mary Craxton leaves there, even though she never really wanted to, while her husband is dead and her remaining son, Henry Craxton Jr. is away from her, travelling the world. The family has got its money from taxidermy, since Craxton Institute is supplying the natural history museums with its showpieces. This is the story of the decline of that family, and the rise of its servants, especially the housekeeper Ellen and her daughter Peg.

The story begins with the northern owl travelling over the Craxton Lake. Later on, this owl is shot by the houseman’s son, and becomes a showpiece itself. This happens a little before window Mary Craxton dies and her son returns to find that she’s left everything to charity. The servants hate Henry Craxton who decides to take what is rightfully his by law. The have every right to do so, as he is a sin that never loved his mother and has the worst manners ever, especially when it comes to them.

Joanna Scott wrote a book, finalist to the 1997 Pulitzer prize. The characters are deep, with emotions, described in a poetic way. The setting is a romantic one, and the description of the nature flows seamlessly as the story proceeds. Love and passion are in the air, all inside the mansion and its surroundings. Words untold, remaining in the minds of the characters. Discussions that never took place between a mother and a daughter, a woman and a man. Heroes of the small things.

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