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Euphoria

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3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  43,564 Ratings  ·  5,110 Reviews
Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is the story of three young, gifted anthropologists of the 1930s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Christine Whitney
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Julie Ehlers The flute was important because it had written language on it, when none of the tribes of that area were believed to have written language. And they…moreThe flute was important because it had written language on it, when none of the tribes of that area were believed to have written language. And they did feed it; Fen mentions putting dried fish in it, which I assumed was some kind of offering since the tribe held the flute in such high regard.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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switterbug (Betsey)
Aug 12, 2015 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
Debbie
Jul 13, 2015 Debbie rated it it was amazing
As they were leaving the Mumbanyo, someone threw something at them. It bobbed a few yards from the stern of the canoe. A pale brown thing.
‘Another dead baby,’ Fen said.
He had broken her glasses by then, so she didn’t know if he was joking.


That’s the beginning of this gem! I was a goner before I knew what hit me. Don’t worry, the book isn’t full of dead babies, but it’s full of life and gorgeous writing and intriguing characters and I can’t end this sentence because I can’t stop raving about thi
...more
Julie
I picture Lily King in her office, surrounded by a library’s worth of research materials. Drafts of Euphoria are stacked in descending towers along one wall, each draft a stair-step lower. I picture a writer chipping away at her words, like a sculptor to marble, until the true work reveals itself; the words coming to life in the reader’s imagination the way hard, cold stone warms like flesh under the hand.

Euphoria was inspired by anthropologist Margaret Mead and her experiences along the Sepik
...more
Debbie "DJ"
Holy moly, I couldn't put down the last third of this incredible book. Review to follow...when I catch my breath!

Okay, breath caught. Pretty obvious, I loved this book! Yes, it's the story of early anthrolopology, loosely based on Margaret Mead. When I started reading, I thought it was good, but also a little slow. However, once I got into the second half I literally couldn't put it down! The story revolves around three main characters, Nell, her husband Fen, and fellow anthropologist Bankson. W
...more
Jen
Jul 27, 2015 Jen rated it it was amazing
Euphoria is my new favourite read of 2015. The title itself captivated me until the story grabbed and pulled at me and I, too, felt intense pleasure and well being. It’s New Guinea circa 1932. Three anthropologists - Nell and Fen, a couple, and Andrew who travels solo, meet up at a Christmas party after having travelled to the inner most remote areas of the region seeking out tribes and attempting to decipher cultures. This friendship creates an opportunity to shed the loneliness and isolation t ...more
❀Julie
Mar 05, 2016 ❀Julie rated it it was amazing
Judge a book by its cover? Absolutely with Euphoria! I was completely transported to the setting in New Guinea and three days after finishing I’m still thinking about it. The book is loosely based on the lives of anthropologists, Margaret Mead and her first and second husbands, and left me wanting to know more about each of them. I say loosely based because the author added her own twist to the story that tugged at my heartstrings. But regardless of who they were, I loved these fascinating chara ...more
Eve
May 25, 2015 Eve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
"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.'"

I love books about anthropology, and in this historical fiction read, King takes the reader deep into the river villages of New Guinea in the 1930s. Andrew Bankston, an English anthropologist, has been studying a friendly river tribe for several years by himself. Overcome with lone
...more
Elyse
Aug 04, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing
"I can feel the relationships, the likes & dislikes in the room in a way I could never speak.
You don't realize how language actually interferes with communication until you
don't have it, how it gets in the way like and overdominant sense".

"Nell was laughing with him and I wasn't sure what had just happened: who had asked
the questions, whose questions were asked, how he got that story out for him when
he did not want to tell it, when he had kept it a secret all his life. Bolunta.
They 'want' t
...more
Violet wells
To begin with I had the feeling I was really going to enjoy this. There wasn’t going to be any wizardry or groundbreaking technique to this novel. Rather it seemed it would be a riveting story told by an accomplished writer with a passion for her subject and a very easy and poised prose style. Quickly there’s a sense that the real tribes under scrutiny here are men and women. But I felt King could have been a little more subtle and certainly more probing with this anthropological irony. Then it ...more
Glenn Sumi
May 26, 2015 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it
I don’t know much about cultural anthropology, and only vaguely recognize the name Margaret Mead (apparently her work is considered “old-fashioned” and “quaint” in current academic circles), but Lily King’s compact and brilliant novel has now made me curious about both.

The book was inspired by the few months in 1933 in which Mead, an American, her second husband Reo Fortune, an Australian, and Gregory Bateson (an Englishman, who would become her third husband) spent together on the Sepik River
...more
Michael
I love the interplay between the personal and scientific outlooks on human nature in this fictional rendering of the life of Margaret Mead and her husband during their fieldwork living with a New Guinea tribe in the 30s. This is not historical fiction in the sense of trying to recreate a possibly real version of actual events, but a use of a historical figures and situations as a launching pad for an imagined story. How does the interplay between the subjective and objective work out for anthrop ...more
Shane Malcolm
May 30, 2014 Shane Malcolm rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
It will surprise me if anything dethrones this as my book of the year for 2014. I know it's only May. Euphoria is everything a great novel should be, and then some. My heart can hardly withstand the onslaught of beauty radiating from this book.
Iris P
Euphoria by Lily King
Euphoria

Please be aware that my review contain what could be considered spoilers!!!!

I read somewhere that Euphoria is a novel of ideas. At its center, the novel follows three young anthropologists and the very strange romantic triangle that takes place between them in the early 1930’s during a short period of time when their lives and careers intersected along the Sepik River in New Guinea.
Lily King based the main three characters, Nell Stone, Fenwick Schuyler & Andrew Bankson, on the live
...more
Carol
May 31, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Mumbanyo kill their twins, she told me close to morning, because two babies meant two different lovers."

The remote villages of 1930's New Guinea really come to life in this descriptive story of three anthropologists who interview and document their interactions with native tribes as they live in their environment.

As relationships develop and dubious personalities show their true form, it becomes apparent there is evil in the air and danger on the way.....with one character in particular you

...more
Carol
Jul 08, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing
The Hook - Just read the glowing reviews and you’ll understand why I had to read Euphoria. My sincere thanks also to our Adult Services Librarian, Cait, at my public library for her endorsement of this book.

The Line“But she was aware the story you think you know is never the real one.”

The Sinker – I don’t know much about Margaret Mead’s life except that she was a cultural anthropologist. Loosely based on Mead’s life, Euphoria may find me scrambling to learn more.

Anthropology is key here but
...more
Cathrine ☯
Feb 18, 2016 Cathrine ☯ rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
4.5
I loved this exotic tale of three anthropologists in New Guinea during the 1930s. While they are observing, studying, and disrupting the lives of the tribes they are living amongst, the reader feels like a fourth character watching the dangerous fascinations, jealousy, and erotic tension that escalate between the two men and one woman. At only 256 pages that stealthily turn like a cat through the jungle, there is no superfluousness here. The wonderful pacing and prose keeps you reading in you
...more
Richard Derus
Apr 01, 2016 Richard Derus rated it really liked it

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 f
...more
Laura
Jun 13, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing
It has been a while since I had the urge to literally bring a book to my chest and hold it there for a few moments after finishing it, but with this book I not only had the urge, I embraced it. (And therefore the book, because I am both literal and ridiculous.)

This is one of those rare books I feel compelled to order for my closest friends (Maria, consider yourself warned!) rather than just recommend, because it's just that good. The tone, like the prose itself, is gorgeous and evocative, the s
...more
Candi
Jun 16, 2015 Candi rated it it was amazing
Loosely based on the experiences of real-life anthropologists Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson, Euphoria is a captivating work of historical fiction. Set in the 1930’s Territory of New Guinea, the setting is exotic and the various cultures in the region are intriguing. I became immediately interested in learning about the tribes living along the Sepik River right along with the fictionalized characters Nell Stone and her husband Fen, and the depressed and isolated Andrew Bankson. ...more
Bonnie Brody
Jul 01, 2014 Bonnie Brody rated it it was ok
I had trouble getting through this book. I found the story rather boring and the characters only partially developed. The historic significance of cultural anthropology in New Guinea during the 1930's was very interesting as was the protagonist's character being based on Margaret Mead. This created the groundwork for an interesting historical fiction.

Ms. King appears to have difficulty differentiating between an ethnographic field study as opposed to a treatise on a particular tribe. Ethnograph
...more
Linda O'Donnell
Mar 19, 2016 Linda O'Donnell rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I wasn't quite sure what I really expected in Euphoria by Lily King. I did know that this novel would be based loosely on life encounters of the anthropologist Margaret Mead.

What actually made my eyelashes flutter was the character of Andrew Bankson. Lily King develops him beautifully throughout the book. It is Bankson who touches the heart and the soul. Bankson and his brothers are the tragic products of life energy spent in pleasing others and in the senseless pursuit of outward approval. Ente
...more
Rebecca Foster
“The story you think you know is never the real one.” What a great novel about the love triangle between three anthropologists (one American, one English, and one Australian) working among the tribes of Papua New Guinea in the 1930s. Apparently it’s based on the lives of Margaret Mead and two of her husbands, but knowledge of the real-life antecedents is unnecessary; this book is its own intense, self-contained world. Two other novels I’ve read in the past few years, The People in the Trees by ...more
Sue
Jun 01, 2015 Sue rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sue by: Kris
Euphoria will definitely be added to my favorites shelf. Truly mesmerizing.
'Do you have a favorite part of all this?' she asked.
'All what?' I said.
'This work.'
Favorite part? There was little at this point that
didn't make me want to run with stones straight back
to the river. I shook my head. 'You first.'
She looked surprised, as if she hadn't expected the
question to come back at her. She narrowed her grey
eyes. 'It's that moment about two months in, when
you think you've finally got a handl
...more
Leanne
Mar 09, 2015 Leanne rated it really liked it
I don't think I really even knew what anthropology was until I read Euphoria. I had just lumped it in with archeology and dismissed it as the study of something old and kind of boring and never really thought about it. Turns out I was wrong on both counts, because it really has nothing to do with archeology and it's also quite fascinating. It helps that the book is amazingly well-researched and seems so assured on the topic - in fact, I don't think I've ever read something that so seamlessly ble ...more
Mona
Apr 20, 2015 Mona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating Novel Inspired by the Life of Margaret Mead



Apparently Lily King got the idea for this absorbing short novel from a biography of anthropologist Margaret Mead.

Mead has gone out of fashion. In this hypersexualized age of social media oversharing and selfies, it's hard to imagine how revolutionary her work was at the time. But it was. Her studies of adolescent sexuality in the South Pacific were jaw dropping at the time of publication.

The time frame is around 1933.

The characters are base
...more
Diane S ☔
May 01, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Early 1930's finds Banks on living with the Kiona tribe in New Guineas. Depressed due to his solitude and loneliness, he tries to take his own life, an attempt that fails. Nell Stone and her husband Fen, have just left the tribe, a very violent one, that they have been studying. Bankson finds them a tribe on the Sepik river, an hour away from the Kiona by boat.

This was an extremely interesting read, the tribal customs, their rituals and beliefs, the way they related to each other are all display
...more
Sara Nelson
Jul 21, 2014 Sara Nelson rated it really liked it
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 stud ...more
Caroline
***NO SPOILERS***

Every single plot point is underdeveloped in this book. It paints an incomplete portrait of tribes in New Guinea and of an anthropologist’s fieldwork. The “passionate love triangle” promised in the summary is quite unpassionate and more of a side plot. This love triangle also doesn’t threaten the three main characters’ lives, careers, and bonds, as the summary states. Here’s a perfect example of a book that’s won a handful of prizes but isn’t necessarily deserving of all the acc
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I had a review copy of this book for months last year and now I'm kicking myself for never getting into it. At the same time, it fits perfectly into my month of reading books from and about New Guinea, so the bookish universe must have known I needed to wait.

I've read several novels about anthropologists - some I loved, like Mating by Norman Rush, and some I liked slightly less but still enjoyed, like State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.

In Euphoria, Lily King takes the person of Margaret Mead and he
...more
Chrissie
This turned out to be totally fantastic. What I think the author did so amazingly was take an episode of Margaret Mead's life and turn it into her own fictional story. It captures (1) the spirit of Margaret Mead and (2) the heyday of the early years of Western anthropological studies. The most important ingredient was the feel of Margaret Mead's enthusiasm, curiosity and excitement. Not only was I captivated but also her husband-to-be. But wait, because the book does not follow the trajectory of ...more
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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 new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, bei ...more
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“You don’t realise how language actually interferes with communication until you don’t have it, how it gets in the way like an overdominant sense.” 25 likes
“You don't realize how language actually interferes with communication until you don't have it, how it gets in the way like an overdominant sense. You have to pay much more attention to everything else when you can't understand the words. Once comprehension comes, so much else falls away. You then rely on their words, and words aren't always the most reliable thing.” 20 likes
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