The Den: A novel by Abi Maxwell
English | 2019 | General Fiction | ePUB | 1.0 Mb
The Den: A luminous, hypnotic story of youth, sex, and power that tells of two young women who find themselves ostracized from the same small New England community for the same reasons–though they are separated by 150 years.
Henrietta and Jane are fifteen and twelve, growing up in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. Their mother is a painter, lost in her art, their father a cook who’s raised them on magical tales about their land. When Henrietta becomes obsessed with a boy from town, Jane takes to trailing the young couple, spying on their trysts–until one night, Henrietta vanishes into the woods. Elspeth and Claire are sisters separated by an ocean–Elspeth’s pregnancy at seventeen meant she was quickly married and sent to America to avoid certain shame. But when she begins ingratiating herself to the town’s wealthy mill owner, a series of wrenching and violent events unfold, culminating in her disappearance. As Jane and Claire search in their own times for their missing sisters, they each come across a strange story about a family that is transformed into coyotes. But what does this myth mean? Are their sisters dead, destroyed by men and lust? Or, are they alive and thriving beyond the watchful eyes of their same small town? With echoes of The Scarlet Letter, Abi Maxwell gives us a transporting, layered tale of two women, living generations apart yet connected by place and longing, and condemned for the very same desires.
“Our mother, once brave enough, tiptoed to the house and peered in the windows. “That godforsaken wallpaper,” she would say when our father told the story. At the time, Henrietta was in her belly, taking hold of life, though my mother didn’t know it yet. They went home to their apartment in the little city to the south, and our father lay on their mattress on the floor and dreamed aloud, and our mother, because she just wanted sleep, said something like, “For Christ’s sake, Charley, then do it,” without thinking he ever would. A week later they owned the place—the down payment made with the bit of inheritance they had received from our father’s parents. The floors were dirt and the stairs, our mother claimed, were planks weaker than her own hands, but it was cheap and, as our father said, it was theirs.
By the time Henrietta and I came along, there were barn cats and chickens, and once in a while two pigs or a meat cow, and always there were Shania and Dolly, those strong black mares with coats and gallops sleek as oil. Our father claimed he’d had those mares forever.”