Author: Lily King
Type: Stand Alone
Page Count: 257
Publisher: Grove Press
Publishing Date: 2014
Lily’s new novel is the story of three young, gifted anthropologists in 1933 caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens theirs bonds, their careers, and ultimately their lives. English Anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying a tribe on the Sepik River in the Territory of New Guinea with little success. Increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when he encounters the famous and controversial Nell Stone and her wry, mercurial husband Fen. Bankson is enthralled by the magnetic couple whose eager attentions pull him back from the brink of despair. Set between World War I and II and inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is an enthralling story of passion, possession, exploration and sacrifice from award-winning novelist Lily King. (Source)
This was another novel from the library book club and I have to say that it’s been my favorite so far. This is a story about a tortured soul who went on to become someone of some notoriety. He spent most of his life in the shadow of his father and brothers before eventually following his own path. This is not a happy story by any means, but it is one of many lessons about society, human nature, insecurities, and love.
We are first introduced to the main character, Andrew Bankson, in his attempt to commit suicide. When I began this book, I thought it would be a third person account because we started with the two other main characters. I was pleasantly surprised that, that was not the case.
Bankson is enamored by the couple of anthropologists that stumble into his life. He idolizes them in the beginning and soon falls in love with the wife, Stone. They seem to have similar interests and temperaments that help balance the fiery husband, Fen. Their triangle begins to get more and more complex as the story unravels. When they all work together, they stumble upon an idea that could change the course of the way we view people.
We soon find out that the relationship between Stone and Fen is toxic. He is a man who is at home with the local tribes and would rather “go native.” This leads to conflict with Stone because she keeps herself detached to an extent and focuses on her work and the reason why they’re there. Because she is more well-known, this leads to jealousy between the pair and becomes damaging to whatever semblance of a relationship that they have. He wants to best her, but begins to not be able to differentiate between his role as an observer and assimilating with the local beliefs. Let’s just say that this doesn’t end well.
The scenes were so fully fleshed out that it made me think that I was there with them; just an observer from afar. There’s a lot of heavy topics concerning equality, perception, and acceptance. A mix of history and fiction that left me quite intrigued to learn more. Although it was fast, if you’re looking for a very light read, then this is not a book for you.
“I thought we had time. Despite everything, I believed somehow there was time. Love’s first mistake. Perhaps love’s only mistake.”
Overall, this was a very interesting novel and I would suggest it to anyone looking to read something that makes them think. It’s not overly heavy and at 257 pages, not very big. It’s an experience that leaves you questioning the ideas of possession, love, and commonalities between humans.
Thanks for reading,