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Euphoria Hardcover – June 3, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1ST edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802122558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802122551
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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

From Booklist

Just after a failed suicide attempt, Andrew Bankson, English anthropologist studying the Kiona tribe in the territory of New Guinea, meets a pair of fellow anthropologists fleeing from a cannibalistic tribe down river. Nell Stone is controversial and well respected. Her rough Australian husband, Fen, is envious of her fame and determined to outshine her. Bankson helps them find a new tribe to study, the artistic, female-­dominated Tam. Nell’s quiet assurance and love of the work, and Fen’s easy familiarity, pull Bankson back from the brink. But it is the growing fire between him and Nell that they cannot do anything about. Layered on top of that is Nell’s grasp of the nuances of the Tam, which makes it clear that she will once again surpass Fen. Set between the First and Second World Wars, the story is loosely based on events in the life of Margaret Mead. There are fascinating looks into other cultures and how they are studied, and the sacrifices and dangers that go along with it. This is a powerful story, at once gritty, sensuous, and captivating. --Elizabeth Dickie

More About the Author

Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country and abroad.

Lily's first novel, The Pleasing Hour (1999) won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and was a New York Times Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her second, The English Teacher, was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year, a Chicago Tribune 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.

Customer Reviews

Excellent story and character development.
H. Weld
Wonderfully written story that is worth the read to just get to the twist ending.
Chris
It is beautifully written and wonderfully researched.
Regina M Villa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although the jacket will tell you that this book is inspired by the story of real people, leave that aside while you are reading. For King's novel is enthralling in its own terms, both about the early days of anthropological study in the 1930s, and as a hot-blooded tale about inspiration, rivalry, and desire. The setting in New Guinea. Australian ethnographer Schyler Fenwick and his wife Nell Stone have just come downriver after an unproductive stay with a tribe known as the Mumbanyo. At least it was unproductive for her; Fen, as he is called, would have liked to stay, but Nell is the decision-maker of the two, having just published a best-seller that has eclipsed her husband's dry academic monograph. They run into an English anthropologist called Andrew Bankson, the book's main narrator. He is lonely after spending two years with a tribe on the Sepik River, and urges Nell and Fen to transfer their study to another tribe a few hours away from him by boat, known as the Tam.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Three anthropologists form a circumstantial friendship in the 1930s while studying tribes in Papua, New Guinea. American Nell Stone (who is inspired by Margaret Mead) already has a best selling book on natives of the Solomon Islands. Nell's Australian husband, Fen, is jealous of her success, and is often reproachful and competitive. He is desperate to make a name for himself, and, instead of collaborating with Nell, he keeps his work hidden. However, Fen admits to a genuine regard for his wife's work.

The couple had recently studied the Mumbanyo, a frighteningly barbaric tribe, and left abruptly, at Nell's request, resigning to move to Australia to study the Aboriginal peoples. Fen wanted to stay in New Guinea; he is after a totemic flute that he learned of during their last days with the Mumbanyo, and believes that securing it is the key to his glory. However, out of love and dedication to Nell, he capitulated.

Andrew Bankston is a tall, lanky, wistful anthropologist who recently failed at suicide. He met Nell and Fen quite spontaneously, and talked them out of Australia and back into New Guinea, promising to find them a stimulating tribe to study. He corrals them on his motorized boat, and helps them settle in with the Tam people, about seven hours from where he is studying with the Kionas. Periodically, he comes to visit, and their developing friendship provides much of the adventure and drama of the novel. Each of them has their own talents and approach to ethnography. Fen thrives on experience, on doing, saturating in the culture by joining the inhabitants, almost impetuously. He's a hustler, and can learn languages swiftly--"he absorbs words like sunlight." Nell is a thinker with a deep empathy and imagination. Language is limited, in her estimation.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lins TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Once I’d read the first chapter of Lily King’s latest novel, "Euphoria", I knew I was going to love it. It fascinates like Yanagihara’s, "The People in the Trees" and Patchet’s, "State of Wonder", two other recent novels with anthropological settings.
The novel is lush with vivid descriptions of the New Guinea landscapes, rivers, rainforests and indigenous people. I found myself hoping that a film would be made from it, especially after I looked up the Rainbow Gum Tree on the internet; it’s truly an amazingly beautiful specimen.
The story is set in the 1930s. Andrew Bankson is lonely and somewhat stagnant in his study of one of the Kiona river tribes, when fellow anthropologists, Fen and Nell arrive on the run from a hostile tribe. Andrew is desperate to keep them nearby for their company, and also for his attraction to Nell. There is a delightful scene where Andrew takes Fen and Nell, via canoe, “tribe shopping” along the river. They are to select their new tribe to study and it’s much like selecting a piece of real-estate; Nell is completely like a woman shopping for a house, looking for the perfect setting and amenities. She is bothered by the slightest detail of a place (“a pair of picky anthropologists”) until they meet the tribe on beautiful Lake Tam, where they settle. That’s all of the plot I’ll give away!
Not only is the novel beautifully written and in a fascinating setting, the characters are wonderfully rendered; so much so that my only complaint about the novel is that it was over too soon. This is a case where I’d have loved 100 more pages of these characters and this setting!
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