By EW Staff
Updated January 19, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

THE MANIKIN Joanna Scott (Henry Holt, $22.50) Scott is a highly touted literary novelist who, though not yet 40, has already won a MacArthur Fellowship. The acclaim for her work is no doubt inspired by her uncanny ability to reimagine the intellectual climates and cultures of bygone eras. In her latest novel, Scott evokes the world left behind by a noted taxidermist in his estate called the Manikin, a gabled, gloomy house near Rochester, N.Y. Manikin begins in 1917, when a young girl named Peg Griswood arrives at the manor with her mother, who has been hired as a housekeeper by the taxidermist’s widow. Peg subsequently grows up in a bizarre household rife with strained relationships and filled with ghostly relics of stuffed animals. The distance that the author maintains between herself and her subject can make the experience of reading her work slightly mechanical. Still, through the sheer force of her descriptive powers, Scott etches the Manikin and its quirky milieu into the reader’s memory. A-