Euphoria

King, Lily

Published by Harper Perennial
ISBN 10: 1443435287 / ISBN 13: 9781443435284
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Synopsis:

Set in 1930s Papua New Guinea, this gorgeous novel is about three young, ground-breaking anthropologists caught in a love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers and, ultimately, their lives

English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years studying the Kiona river tribe in the Territory of New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brothers' deaths and increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when a chance encounter with two colleagues, the controversial Nell Stone and her wry and mercurial Australian husband, Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just fled the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell's poor health, are hungry for a new discovery. When Bankson finds them a new tribe to divert them from leaving New Guinea, he ignites an intellectual and romantic firestorm between the three of them that burns out of anyone's control.

King's writing is effortlessly elegant and the setting wonderfully rich and evocative. What really sets this novel apart, though, are the brilliantly realized characters absorbed in the work of understanding the fundamental humanity that connects us all. Set between two world wars and inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is an enthralling story of passion, possession, exploration and sacrifice.

Review:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2014: If I tell you that Euphoria is a novel loosely based on the life of the anthropologist Margaret Mead, your eyes will start to glaze over. Well, they shouldn’t--not when the novel is as wonderful as this one. Its both romantic and intelligent, a combination you don’t need to be a scientist to know doesn’t appear often in nature. Mead, a controversial character in real life, is here transmuted into the equally complex (and somewhat sickly) Nell Stone, who has made a reputation for herself by studying native tribes in New Guinea. Her husband, also an anthropologist, is more jealous than dutiful, although he does manage to make her feel inadequate for failing to produce a baby. Enter a charming-but-tortured third anthropologist, who at times seems to be unsure to which of his new friends he’s more attracted. Sparks of the emotional and sexual kind fly, but what’s even more interesting is the portrait of a growing friendship based at least partly on philosophy and attitudes toward “primitive” cultures. You know from the beginning that some bad things are going to happen, but it is to King’s great credit (and the fact that she changes some of the events in Mead’s life) that you can’t really guess what they are. This is the best kind of historical novel--the kind that sent me running to read more about its real-life inspiration. --Sara Nelson

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Title: Euphoria
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Good

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