Euphoria by Lily King Book Review | A Rose in Bloom

I first picked up Euphoria after seeing it raved about on NPR. Research indicated that it was based on the adventures of Margaret Mead on the Sepik River so I knew Euphoria would at least be an interesting way to pass some time. Interesting is an understatement. I now understand why this book has such accreditation, and why it was in so many “best of” lists for 2014. Euphoria is a cunning book taking place in 1930s New Guinea that manages to have two main characters in the throws of anthropology: depressed Andrew Bankson and best selling author Nell Stone. Her husband, Fen, is jealous of her success and constantly on a quest to outperform her in the anthropology world, even to the point of degrading and abusing Nell emotionally.
Nell and Fen had previously been studying the Mumbanyo tribe, a group with violent and even cannibalistic tendencies – actions which fascinate Fen. However, Nell becomes ill and insists on leaving this tribe much earlier than they originally intended. Fen holds this against her for much of the book, as he was after a secret artifact to trump her success with his own. However, while the three scientists are each working on their own projects they discover themselves to have made many lifelong friends among the natives and even work themselves into an enthralling, disconcerting love triangle full of passion, jealousy, and discontent. Characters become selfish to the point where you want to choke them, and so selfless that you want to cry with them on the New Guinea beaches. The simplicity of the natives tribes is breathtaking and as the trio spends more time with studying these groups, we begin to realize just how basic is human emotional spectrum.
Furthermore, as if I haven’t rambled enough on how much I loved this book, I’ll drive the point home by mentioning that the New York Times said this exquisite novel was “about the rewards and disappointments of intellectual ambition and physical desire.” I could not have applied a better description. After all, every human can related ambition and desire.
Without giving spoilers, all I can say is run, don’t walk to the library to find this book. Euphoria is story that will truly leave you gasping for breath.

P.S. Check out Cultural Icons and Their Favorite Books. Let me know which one is your favorite!

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