In February this year Euphoria by Lily King was among the NBCC finalists and it interested me enough to make my Feb TBR Chronicles as well. I got around to reading it this month and I was happily surprised by it.
Upon initially reading the book blurb I wondered how the novel would play out being a historical novel about anthropologists. I was interested in the story but there were a number of ways that, in my mind, this subject matter could have gone and it seemed possible to be a complete bore. But it wasn’t! It was a truly lovely book about relationships.
“From New England Book Award winner Lily King comes a breathtaking novel about three young anthropologists of the ’30s caught in a passionate 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 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 nearby, the artistic, female-dominated Tam, he ignites an intellectual and romantic firestorm between the three of them that burns out of anyone’s control.” (GoodReads)
Euphoria is largely about the relationships between the three anthropologists but not exclusively. There are many people and relationships to explore all of which give us insight into the characters.
It has wonderful depth and is set in a unique environment. Those of you who have read a few of my other reviews will know I’m a sucker for new places and cultures in my reading. If that sounds like something you’ll enjoy I highly recommend this book.
The story has its highs and lows and it shows the highs and lows of our humanity. I really enjoyed this book. It is loosely based on the time American Anthropologist Margaret Mead, her husband Australian Reo Fortune, and the Englishman Gregory Bateson spent together on the Sepik River in New Guinea in the 30s. This is a great holiday read and I highly recommend it.