Loved the setting and reading about how the early anthropologists might have worked, including the main subject of this story Nell (loosely based on Margaret Mead), her husband Fen (ugh), and a British anthropologist named Bankson. I even kind-of liked the love triangle aspect, although it was very obvious who she *should* choose the whole time. I found it to be an insanely fast read, which may also help with my rating of it as well. I think I'd recommend it, but be prepared for a bit of a love story and the pining that may accompany that.
This book is humid. It is dense with a strong sense of place and filled with complex character relationships. A great pick for book clubs!
The writing is good. One sticks with it to the end. Don't know what this says about the reader.
This is the second novel of Lily King's hoping the 'heroine' would off herself and let all the people she's been abusing get on with their lives and find some happiness.
Why does this author write about dysfunctional and somewhat abusive but "wildly attractive" (according to her) women who have some terrible secret to hide from their distant past that makes them irresistible to decent men and children?
I'm tempted but determined to stay away from The Pleasing Hour until I've read something positive and uplifting beforehand.
When Andrew Bankson meets fellow anthropologists Nell Stone and her husband Fen in New Guinea, they have just emerged from a treacherous experience studying the Mumbanyo and are looking for an alternative mission of discovery. He offers to deliver them to a new, unstudied tribe a bit further up the river, all the while endlessly fascinated and captivated by the couple -- Nell in particular.
Based loosely on events and people in the life of renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead, 'Euphoria' is a love triangle simultaneously offering readers a tantalizing peek into the field of anthropology in the early- to mid-1900s -- even better enjoyed if you have ever wanted to be an anthropologist yourself. I particularly enjoyed the scene with Nell's mental rendering of her fellow white women's cultural grooming habits in anthro-speak. It's a slim volume, and a quick, delightful read.
While I was reading this book, I was thinking - What a waste of a really good topic and interesting material: endless names of tribes; unlikeable, incomplete, characters of westerners...
But last 30 or so pages, raised my opinion of the book.
There was so much to love about this story of 3 anthropologists who are doing field research in New Guinea. The setting is great - both moody and interesting and I loved the introspective approach to revealing these characters and their awkward relationships to each other. Every time I picked the book up, I would just fall into that world for awhile. I love when a book can do that for me. I will definitely come back to this book again and will look for other novels by this author.
Euphoria is full of voice and setting, and it is these two elements that carry the novel. If you like anthropology, philosophy, or psychology, or just about any fictionalized tale of science, I recommend giving this one a try.
A truly wonderful book; I would give it 6 stars if I could. The writing is spectacular, rich, creating a sense of the euphoria of its title. Three finely drawn, unforgettable characters: Bankson, the troubled, conflicted, earnest narrator, struggling to overcome the disappointment of his parents and brothers at his failure to become the great biologist; Fen, the envious, marginal anthropologist constantly overshadowed by the brilliance of his wife; and above all Nell, passionate, brilliant, insightful, beautiful, immersing herself in the culture of the tribes, capturing not just the facts but gloriously embracing the romance of it all. Penetrating insight into human intellectual competitiveness, the search of an individual for his/her own destiny. King's presentation of the anthropologist's dilemma when encountering an alien culture is perfectly apt, questioning "how we believed we could be objective in any way at all, we who each came in with our own personal definitions of kindness, strength, masculinity, femininity, God, civilization, right and wrong".
I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla and really enjoyed this relatively short novel. I liked the character development and the descriptions were rich and vibrant.
Note: Also available as Book Club in a Bag kit!
What a great read. Interesting, intense, and in the moment, this book will leave you wanting more! I went back and reread the first half to tie those early threads together in my mind.
My book club gave Euphoria a unanimous "thumbs up". Lily King tells a great story with very concise language. I was hooked from the very beginning and amazed that so much detail could be presented in such a short book. I felt like I was in New Guinea exploring along with the main characters.
well written book about anthropologists in the 1930's studying tribes in New Guinea. i really enjoyed reading about their observations of these tribes and the love triangle that was told from two different perspectives was good as well. i guess i just expected more because of all the rave reviews, but i wasn't that impressed overall as i thought i would be.
a fascinating read - the characters were so well developed, the settings so marvelous. Having read of Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict in sociology courses back in my university days, I was always interested in their encounters with "primitive" societies. With hindsight from 2015, I can realize just how little the West knew about what culture consists of, how to interact with these newly-found societies and how to observe without endangering them. A thought oprovoking exploration of these themes.
I enjoyed the accounts of the anthropologists interactions with the New Guinea tribes as well as the love triangle story. A good read.
I expected more from this book. It seemed like an essay on aboriginal peoples written from the point of view of Westerners at that time. So many of the observations, I felt, were just guesses on the part of the anthropologists, not scientific fact. In some places the aboriginals seemed to be clearly mocking the scientists and leading them astray as to the reasons behind many of their rituals. Also, it should be noted the story is only very loosely based on Margaret Mead's early, actual life. I enjoyed Ann Patchett's State of Wonder more.
Although I enjoyed some parts of this book, for example, the description of the places, it just wasn't my cup of tea. Some of the writing struck me as plodding, i.e. "I had to clasp my hands together so that I did not reach out and touch her skin" and "The top of her pencil was wet and chewed". To me the love story between B and Nell didn't seem very plausible, but I think this book would lead to a lot of discussion in a book club.
From our 2015 #80DayRead Summer Reading Club traveler Sarah: Loved this book - incredibly imagined historical fiction, fantastic setting, and heartfelt love story. Five stars!
I loved this book. I have not read a fiction book based on real anthropology, so this was a new sub-type for me. I need to research Margaret Mead.
Setting: Papua, New Guinea
Characters: Nell, Fen, Bankson
The three main characters come together in a tragic, loving way. American anthropologist Nell is a successful and sought writer. Her husband Fen is a competitive, abusive, secretive, selfish anthropologist willing to do anything for money and fame. Nell wants to analyze a culture; Fen wants to become a native. Their opposing styles keep them apart, and in the end, become their undoing. Suicidal Bankson is saved by the hope the couple offers and the care they give him after he gets sick.
The ending left me with unanswered questions, but I felt satisfied.
"She told me that the Tam believed that love grows in the stomach, and that they went around clutching their bellies when their hearts were broken. 'You are in my stomach,' was their most intimate expression of love.'"
An absolutely wonderful read - I could not put it down. King has incredibly easy way of building a story so that the reader feels as though they were standing behind the action the entire time. Characterization is beautifully weaved and a unique history comes alive in a very short amount of pages. Readers will be haunted by the relationships for long after they've turned the last page.
Absolutely beautiful novel that covers some of the same kinds of issues as Ann Patchett's "State of Wonder." Sharp, clear characters and an author who trusts her reader to see even what is unsaid. Loved it.
I felt like I was right in the middle of it all, with the bugs in the tropical heat, mesmerized by the drama unfolding like a train wreck. Short chapters in three shifting perspectives create an engaging sense of discovery. Euphoria is heartbreaking and surprising in equal measure. I loved it.
This novel, inspired by Margaret Mead, recounts an interesting story of three young anthropologists in Papua New Guinea in the 1930s, and more interestingly presents the broad themes of the debate in anthropology about observation versus subjective engagement. The three main characters clearly bring their cultures to their work. Although the aboriginal peoples are presented through the eyes of these early anthropologists, perhaps it should have been clearer in the book that these portrayals reflected the culture of the "Westerners" of the time.
I loved this book. I could not put it down! A fascinating look at anthropology in the 30's, and also many aspects of relationships between men and women. It is well-written but not too long, and can be read in a few hours, which is important for those with busy schedules. I have never read anything quite like it.