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Book Review: Euphoria by Lily King

3.5 ⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary: “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 lives of this strange couple and becomes totally enthralled. Within months the trio are producing their best ever work, but soon a firestorm of fierce love and jealousy begins to burn out of control, threatening their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives…”

My Review:

First off, the cover of this book (I read the paperback version) is very deceiving. Full of bright and vivid colors, I did not expect the dark nature of the journey I was a

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bout to embark on. Yes, the colors could represent the tropical location, but by no means do they capture the mood of this novel. Consider yourself warned.

We meet Nell Stone and her husband as they are exploring the different tribes of New Guinea. As they leave one rather intense tribe, they run into fellow Anthropologist Andrew Bankson. And thus begins a triangle of interdependence between the characters –  each struggling to find their own euphoria, whether it is through work, self aggrandizement, or love of another.

In addition, this is a fascinating story of anthropology. The book asks can a study of another people ever be impartial. Can we ever look at a different culture without the influence of our own experience/ without carrying our own baggage? Despite the historical placement of this storyline, this question of judgment still rings true today as does Nell’s struggle to be an educated woman in a field dominated by men.

Perhaps the biggest take-away from this novel for me was the desire to learn more about the life of Margaret Mead. Although there are some obviously large differences between reality and this story, I can see how her autobiography would be absolutely fascinating. Stay tuned…

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