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Euphoria (Deckle edge) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 3, 2014
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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
More About the Author
Lily's first novel, The Pleasing Hour (1999) won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and was a New York TimesÂ Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her second, The English Teacher, was aÂ Publishers WeeklyÂ Top Ten Book of the Year, a Chicago TribuneÂ Best Book of the Year, and the winner of the Maine Fiction Award. Her third novel, Father of the Rain (2010), was a New York Times Editors Choice, a Publishers Weekly Best Novel of the Year and winner of both the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Maine Fiction Award. Lily's new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, being named an Amazon Book of the Month, on the Indie Next List, and hitting numerous summer reading lists from The Boston Globe to O Magazine and USA Today. Reviewed on the cover of The New York Times, Emily Eakin called Euphoria, "a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace."
Lily is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Writer's Award. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines including Ploughshares and Glimmer Train, as well as in several anthologies.
Top Customer Reviews
Although he tries to keep his distance, it is clear that Andrew has fallen for Nell, and she finds she can have conversations with him that she cannot with her husband. But the triangle of desire does not play out as simply as that. The Tam (and Andrew's tribe, the Kiona) appear to have different customs from most of their neighbors, with some striking reversals of the normal gender roles. Separately and together, the three scientists make important discoveries, including the sketch of a quasi-Cartesian classification system that could lead to a Unified Theory of Anthropology. But they are also aware of the biases brought by their own personalities; Andrew wonders at one point whether an anthropologist's field report says more about the people being studied or the author doing the writing.Read more ›
Euphoria by Lily King is a historical novel set in 1930s that tracks the aftermath of a chance meeting between three anthropologists: Nell Stone, an American; her Aussie husband Schuyler Fenwick (Fen); and Andrew Bankson, a Brit. The three are studying various tribes who live along the riverbanks of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. When the anthropologists first come together at a Christmas party at a local government station, all three of them seem to be at the lowest points in their lives. After just a few months embedded with the Mumbanyo tribe, Nell and Fen have decided to pull up stakes and head back to New York and regroup. They seem to fear for their lives as they beat their hasty retreat on a canoe. A specter of violence hangs in the air. Their actual transgressions or fears aren't clear but what is obvious is that they are demoralized by their failure. Meanwhile, Andrew has just been rescued from the river after a botched suicide attempt (rocks in his coat pocket a la Virginia Woolf). He is depressed and lonely, haunted by the memories of his brothers who died in the Great War, and by the disappointment of his mother, who disparages his work and hardly considers anthropology a science or worthy of study.Read more ›
It is a fascinating tale of human relationships and anthropology; unusually for fiction, the author makes the characters' work a major aspect of the book rather than a background detail or subplot, and questions about anthropology are front and center: How involved ought scientists become in the lives of their subjects? Can anthropologists truly be objective, or do they project their own desires or prejudices onto the societies they study? What methods are acceptable for gaining information about a culture? By necessity, the three protagonists are intensely involved in their work, and one of the book's most animated scenes involves Nell's receiving a colleague's manuscript (a fictional analogue of Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture) in the mail, and the three spending all night reading and arguing about it. (That doesn't mean the novel is dry, but that the author does an excellent job of showing the power of ideas and intellectual growth.)
But it soon becomes clear that the three approach their field from very different perspectives. Nell, already famous for a ground-breaking book based on a prior expedition, wants to fall in love with local cultures and erects no boundaries between herself and the people she studies. Fen seems drawn to fieldwork primarily to escape strictures of "civilized" behavior, and to be the most important man in town.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So tragically wonderful! The last few chapters especially were page turners. You can really feel the heart of the characters. Definitely recommend!Published 2 days ago by Allison
What a God awful book this was!! Only read about 80pages and had to stop. It was such torture. I have such little time to read and to spend it reading this book, it was just too... Read morePublished 3 days ago by David Cinquanta
Alternating persons narrating; a little hard to follow who is talking. Story line interesting with some expectations set for the conclusion, but not really powerful. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Jane Braun
in intriguing in the beginning, but just didn't really go anywhere.Published 4 days ago by Deborah Jackson
Beautifully written fiction inspired by the real adventures of Margaret Mead's early days in anthropological field work—and adventures they were!Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
The first few chapters were not engaging. I downloaded the audio version which helped. I read and listened alternatively to finish the book. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Loe80
While introducing you to primative societies it lets you imagine Margaret Mead. Good readPublished 4 days ago by Luz L de Madrazo