Review: Euphoria by Lily King

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.euphoria lily king

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.

 

 

lilolia review rating 4 stars great

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TBR Chronicles #02

The HakawatiThe Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine has been on my TBR for a while but I had forgotten about it.  It wasn’t until the NBCC Fiction Finalists were announced and Alameddine’s novel An Unnecessary Woman drew my attention that I remembered he had written another book that I’d intended on reading.  I was quite taken by An Unnecessary Woman so without doubt the Hakawati will be read fairly soon.  Euphoria

I added two more novels from the NBCC finalists.  The first being Euphoria by Lily King.  I was drawn to it initially because of its beautiful cover but the blurb was also captivating.  It was inspired by the life of “revolutionary” anthropologist Margaret Mead whom I have never heard of, however, the story is set in the 1930s and tells of a passionate yet destructive love triangle involving three anthropologists.  Ooh la la!

On Such a Full SeaThe second is On Such A Full Sea by Chang Rae Lee.  This novel is set in a future America after much decline.  I like these kinds of books very much so I’m naturally drawn to it but I’m even more inclined to read this one because it’s about a woman who leaves her labour settlement in search of her husband who has mysteriously disappeared and all that she encounters on her dangerous journey.  Sounds like it’ll be a great read.

The Western Canon by Harold Bloom is another new addition to my TBR.  I was inspired to read this as I came across a The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Agesfantastic reading list taken from the appendices of Bloom’s book which includes the most important works in the western canon from the days of Euripides and Plato to the 21st century.  Unfortunately the book itself doesn’t deal with all the works he lists in the appendices only a few he deemed especially important but I’m intrigued to read it since people seem so vehemently divided on Bloom himself.

BeowulfI added one book to my TBR while preparing a FBF on JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings.  It is Beowulf translated by J RR Tolkein.  I have wanted to read Beowulf for myself ever since I saw the film.  I figured there can only be so much you can fit into a film so I’d like to read the epic in its entirety.  When I found out JRR Tolkein had done a translation I was sold.  The Bees

My final addition is The Bees by Laline Paull.  This one I came across on fellow blogger FictionFan’s TBR Thursday post and it sounded so different from anything I’ve come across that I couldn’t help myself.  It is described as The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games which sounded completely irresistable to me especially since I read The Handmaid’s Tale recently and really enjoyed it.

I’d love to hear what you think of any of these books that you may have read.  Maybe you could save me a bit of time or on the contrary push one of them up to the top of the pile!

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2014 NBCC Fiction Finalists

The NBCC finalists for the 2014 publishing year were announced in January and the winner will be announced on 12 March.  The list of finalists is an interesting one with all 5 novels looking very enticing.  

For your perusal, here are the 5 fiction finalists for 2014:

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. An Unnecessary WomanGodless, fatherless, divorced, and childless, Aaliya is her family’s “unnecessary appendage.” Every year, she translates a new favourite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated have never been read—by anyone. After overhearing her neighbours, “the three witches,” discussing her too-white hair, Aaliya accidentally dyes her hair too blue.  In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman’s late-life crisis, readers follow Aaliya’s digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Insightful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya’s volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.  A love letter to literature and its power to define who we are, the gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of a single woman’s reclusive life in the Middle East. (GoodReads)

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob A Brief History of Seven KillingsMarley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.  Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the 70s, to the crack wars in 80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the 90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation. (GoodReads)

Euphoria by Lily King

National best-selling and award-winning author Lily King’s new novel is the story of three Euphoriayoung, gifted anthropologists in the 1930s 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 a tribe on the Sepik River in the Territory of New Guinea with little success. Increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when he encounters the famous and controversial Nell Stone and her wry, mercurial Australian husband Fen. Bankson is enthralled by the magnetic couple whose eager attentions pull him back from the brink of despair.   Nell and Fen have their own reasons for befriending Bankson. Emotionally and physically raw from studying the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo tribe, the couple is hungry for a new discovery. But when Bankson leads them to the artistic, female-dominated Tam, he ignites an intellectual and emotional firestorm between the three of them that burns out of anyone’s control. Ultimately, their groundbreaking work will make history, but not without sacrifice.  Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is a captivating story of desire, possession and discovery from one of our finest contemporary novelists. (GoodReads)

On Such A Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned On Such a Full Seaurban neighbourhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labour colonies. And the members of the labour class—descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China—find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labour settlement.
In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan’s journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind.
On Such a Full Sea takes Chang-Rae Lee’s elegance of prose, his masterly storytelling, and his long-standing interests in identity, culture, work, and love, and lifts them to a new plane. Stepping from the realistic and historical territories of his previous work, Lee brings us into a world created from scratch. Against a vividly imagined future America, Lee tells a stunning, surprising, and riveting story that will change the way readers think about the world they live in.  (GoodReads)

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Lila (Gilead, #3)Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the days of suffering that preceded her newfound security.  Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand-to-mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. But despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life is laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to harmonize the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband that paradoxically judges those she loves.  Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award Finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic. (GoodReads)

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