In early twentieth-century New Zealand, a grieving man embarks on a bizarre project: “A story about obsession gone horribly wrong . . . spellbinding and original.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Excitement is rare in the small town of Marumaru, New Zealand. So when a young Maori man arrives on the morning train one day in 1903—announcing the imminent visit of a famous strongman—the entire town turns out to greet him, save one. Colton Kemp, a department store window-dresser, is at home, watching his beloved wife die in premature childbirth. Tormented by grief, he hatches a plan to make his name and thwart his professional rival, the silent and gifted Carpenter: over the next sixteen years he will raise his newborn twins in secrecy and isolation, to become human mannequins in the world’s most lifelike window display.
“At once fantastical and deeply human. Reminiscent of the likes of Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda or Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, there is something delightfully off-kilter, imaginative and original in Cliff’s storytelling . . . a superb novel of parental obsession, the lure of the unattainable and the tragedy inherent within human nature.” —The Hoopla
“A book that makes grand promises and delivers.” —The New York Times