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The Manikin

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  142 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
The Manikin is not a mannequin, but the curious estate of Henry Craxton, Sr. in a rural western New York State. Dubbed the "Henry Ford of Natural History," by 1917 Craxton has become America's preeminent taxidermist. Into this magic box of a world-filled with eerily inanimate gibbons and bats, owls and peacocks, quetzals and crocodiles-wanders young Peg Griswood, daughter ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 1st 2002 by Picador (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sarah
Jul 27, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
One of my all-time favorites. Taxidermy! Lesbianism! Snow owls! Creepy houses!
Georgia
Aug 21, 2016 Georgia rated it liked it
Review can also be found in Chill and read


The 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
...more
Sharon
Dec 05, 2012 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From page 65:

"Snow at last. True snow. Not the furtive or dishonest snow that has started and stopped and started again for weeks. Not the meanspiriteed, sleety snow or the snow that coats the trees with ice. This is snow that gains in bulk and weight with astonishing speed, snow that transforms the forest within minutes into a whitewashed maze of compartments and aisles, snow that lands in tempting dollops on the tiny red berries of the bitter nightshade, snow that stick so the hairpin edges of
...more
Beth G
Feb 26, 2015 Beth G rated it really liked it
It is easy to see why this book was a finalist for the Pulitizer Prize. Joanna Scott is a talented writer who weaves a haunting tale of a home in the late 19th century. Oddly enough a wax work company in Portsmouth, NH is referred to in part of the story. I will do some further investigation.
Her Royal Orangeness
Jul 17, 2014 Her Royal Orangeness rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011, hf-1900
"The Manikin" is similar in style to two other Pulitzer nominees I've read recently - The Plague of Doves and Evidence of Things Unseen. Lyrical writing, strong sense of time and place, large cast of characters, almost excessive information that isn't exactly related to the plot.

The thing I most disliked about "The Manikin" was the third-person omniscient narrative. While it is understandably necessary for the way the novel is constructed, it made the characters feel one-dimensional. I did not
...more
Miriam Fitting
Jul 26, 2009 Miriam Fitting added it
Shelves: fiction
A manor house in the northern Hudson Valley is owned by a family that got its money from taxidermy: the Caxtons. 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 has a frame of the present, during which the ruined and abandoned house is being restored by the townspeople in an attempt to attract tourists. Most of it takes place 30-50 years before, though, when the widow of the original Caxton owner, who ...more
Carol
Aug 26, 2011 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel concerns the people living in a mansion in upstate New York during the 1920s. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1997, a fact which suprises me, because I found the book disappointing. The setting is a rather eccentric place - a mansion built out in the middle of nowhere and filled with the archaeological and natural history artifacts collected by its deceased builder. Yet the plot and characters fall flat, never delivering on the promise of such a fascinating setting. The onl ...more
Joette
Nov 22, 2009 Joette rated it did not like it
I didn't love this book. In fact, I paged through several parts of it just to see what happened at the end. I thought she gave too many details in many parts. I didn't particularly care about any of the characters or their relationships. I'm not sure why I stuck with this book except that it was easier to stick with it than to start a new book.
Beth
Nov 10, 2012 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Captivating!! Second read after years. Absolutely love it!! Characters to fall in love with, setting is gothic and the natural world speaks, poetic, symbolic. For my tastes, this novel has it all. I look forward reading all that Joanna Scott has written.
Monica Copeland
Jul 27, 2008 Monica Copeland rated it really liked it
The book captures the presence of an old house and the mysteries in it through the people in it. I found I zipped right through it, most entranced. There is one birth scene that goes over the top (symbol fest), but that is my only complaint.
Rose
Feb 27, 2013 Rose rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
I kept waiting for something more to happen. Just as an event was building, the scene would change and start building again. There was never any points of satisfaction to really make the reader connect with the characters.
Alex
Jan 04, 2008 Alex rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, bonkers
A scientific gothic. Who else can claim that? Read this by candlelight with a glass of neat whiskey on a winter's night. Or read it anytime you'd like to feel like that. Loved this.
Cristin
Nov 23, 2008 Cristin rated it really liked it
I thought the writing was just stunning. I sort of wondered where the story was going for a while, and then it picked back up, but I was always struck by the beauty of the sentences.
James
James rated it really liked it
Oct 08, 2014
Katherine Suss
Katherine Suss rated it it was ok
Jul 09, 2014
Melee
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Feb 07, 2016
Ron
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Jul 03, 2012
Diane
Diane rated it it was amazing
Feb 01, 2009
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Dec 16, 2009
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Jan 19, 2015
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Oct 30, 2011
Dimitri
Dimitri rated it it was amazing
Dec 19, 2007
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Jun 10, 2008
WILLIAM    RENTLER
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Aug 07, 2009
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Jeannie
Jeannie rated it it was amazing
Dec 04, 2007
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from the backcover:
Joanna Scott is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Rochester. She has also taught in the creative writing programs at Princeton University and the University of Maryland. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship during the writing of Arrogance.
More about Joanna Scott...

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