Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Euphoria” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.85  ·  Rating details ·  66,706 ratings  ·  6,854 reviews
Inspired by the true story of a woman who changed the way we understand our world.

In 1933 three young, gifted anthropologists are thrown together in the jungle of New Guinea. They are Nell Stone, fascinating, magnetic and famous for her controversial work studying South Pacific tribes, her intelligent and aggressive husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, who stumbles into the li
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Atlantic Monthly Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Euphoria, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Hameeda Fen wanted the flute to make him more famous than his wife Nellie. She had written a book and had a grant for her work while he was just living off of…moreFen wanted the flute to make him more famous than his wife Nellie. She had written a book and had a grant for her work while he was just living off of that grant. The flute would have given him the recognition he was looking for.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Christine Whitney
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  66,706 ratings  ·  6,854 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Euphoria
switterbug (Betsey)
Apr 08, 2014 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
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
Julie Christine
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
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
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
Elyse  Walters
Feb 01, 2014 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' to te
Aug 27, 2014 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
Apr 27, 2015 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
May 28, 2015 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
Lily King creates very real to life characters in Schuyler Fenwick, Nell Stone, and Andrew Bankson, three anthropologists studying the native tribes of New Guinea in the 1930’s. Learning that the novel was inspired by Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson, three anthropologists who spent time on the Sepik River in New Guinea in 1933 added fuel to the fire of my enjoyment. I find the study of humans untouched by technology and with very little acquaintance with the accouterments of civi ...more
Glenn Sumi
Mar 08, 2015 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
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
Richard Derus
Sep 16, 2015 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
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2014
I loved this quiet, fascinating book about a love triangle between 3 anthropologists in New Guinea in the 1930’s. Lily King poignantly captures a moment in history where tribes and their cultures are still undiscovered, letters and journals are still handwritten and time flows thick as molasses. A deep breath inhaled and held, just before the world changes forever.

Lovely writing and a perfect, haunting ending.
Bonnie Brody
Jun 28, 2014 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
Iris P
Euphoria by Lily King

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 lives

I hate books that waste their potential. The premise of Euphoria is excellent and could've been unlike anything else, but every single one of its plot points is underdeveloped. 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
May 27, 2014 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

Jun 30, 2014 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
Jul 08, 2015 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
Cathrine ☯️
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 yo
“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 ...more
Feb 12, 2015 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
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

“I've always been able to see the savageness beneath the veneer of society. It's not so very far beneath the surface, no matter where you go.”

Brilliant writing. An almost hypnotic storyline. There was an eerie undertone throughout that I just couldn't shake. I kept waiting for something horrific to happen. It was like I could almost hear the melodic music or the drum beats in the background that would put one on edge. This was a dark, but fascinating and deeply emotional story. So muc
Jun 05, 2014 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 hand
May 11, 2015 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
Diane S ☔
Jan 21, 2014 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
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
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure what I was expecting with this novel, maybe I just went in with zero expectations of what it was about and just knew so many loved it.

This is a book about three anthropologists on the Sepik River in New Guinea in 1932. Something I never thought I would actually be interested in, but I became quickly and quietly engaged until I was riveted. Nell Stone captured the wildness in my heart that I'm not even sure I knew existed. The way Andrew Bankson narrated what happened during this sho
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not one of my friends will agree with me on this one, and that's okay. You probably should read it anyway and behold its euphoria-evoking power. Evidently I'm too anhedonic to appreciate what Lily King has done here. To me, it was a heap of half-baked anthropological mumbo-jumbo (supposedly inspired by the likes of Margaret Mead, though from what little I remember from reading Coming of Age in Samoa in college, the anthropology exhibited here woefully pales in comparison), tossed in a polyamoro ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Wixom Public Libr...: June Discussion 1 5 May 15, 2020 10:07AM  
The Book of Sarah: #NOVEMBER: Euphoria- Final discussion 1 12 Dec 11, 2019 07:33AM  
Did we read this? 1 17 Jun 21, 2018 05:23AM  
Around the Year i...: Euphoria, by Lily King 6 89 Apr 12, 2017 10:05PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Vanishing Half
  • All Adults Here
  • The Glass Hotel
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road
  • The Dutch House
  • Nothing to See Here
  • Sea Wife
  • Valentine
  • Weather
  • A Burning
  • The Book of Longings
  • The Night Watchman
  • Dear Edward
  • Such a Fun Age
  • Rodham
  • My Dark Vanessa
  • Olive, Again
  • Stray
See similar books…
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

Articles featuring this book

    Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list, ...
32 likes · 18 comments
“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.” 43 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.” 35 likes
More quotes…