Euphoria by Lily King

I know, I know, I haven't been blogging at all lately but when I look back on my reading year, I've only read maybe three books that I'll include in my best of 2014 list. However, there are tons of fantastic books coming out soon - books by Sarah Waters, Ian McEwan, Michel Faber, Tana French and Haruki Murakami just to name a few. Things are looking up.

One book I read that stands out this year is Euphoria by Lily King. It's a novel loosely based on anthropologist Margaret Mead. It covers just a short span of time and in fact my only complaint is that at 256 pages it was too short! Just when I was beginning to get into the characters and the setting, the story ended. Mead was a controversial character in real life, writing books about sex in primitive societies. In Euphoria she is Nell Stone, an anthropologist who together with her husband studies native tribes in Papua, New Guinea. Enter another anthropologist, broodingly handsome Andrew Bankson and sparks fly. A love triangle ensues but not for long. The last scene was completely heartbreaking. This was a fascinating read not just for the story but for the close look at the work of anthropologists in the 1930s.

“It’s that moment about two months in, when you think you’ve finally got a handle on the place. Suddenly it feels within your grasp. It’s a delusion – you’ve only been there eight weeks – and it’s followed by the complete despair of ever understanding anything. But at the moment the place feels entirely yours. It’s the briefest, purest euphoria.”

Margaret Mead at work


  1. I've seen this one around and am so glad you posted about it. This book sounds fascinating! I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list :)

  2. You reminded me that I have this one and forgot about it! I hate when that happens.
    There are just so many books coming out but I am not feeling the love from the publishers lately. I got declined for the Murakami which shattered me to the core. I also got decline for the new McEwan book (WTF?) and the new Sarah Waters book. I feel like a total loser at the moment.

    1. I'm surprised you got declined for those books! It's getting more difficult to get early copies from publishers. I think you're going to like Euphoria.

  3. On a kind of related note, I remember taking a cultural studies class that looked at the controversy that Margaret Mead created - apparently her work revealed her preconceptions and prejudices going in, and a lot of the people she interviewed kind of pandered to that for their own ironic amusement. I dunno - I found that interesting.

  4. Oh you've picqued my interest with this one...I've been curious about/drawn to Mead ever since doing a project on her in 5th class....and I know you shoudn't judge a book by its cover...but this one is stunning!


  5. The exotic setting brings to every scene a sense of impending danger as these characters have to rely on each other as they each try to impose their will on the narrative. That balance is such a clever and delicate way of telling a story. I thought it was such a pleasure to read. There isn't a wasted word in this delightful book. I will recommend it to anyone who will listen to me prattle on about it. Bravo!

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