Book Jacket Synopsis: “Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is a captivating 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.”
Review: Let me tell you about the best dollar I spent in 2016. I LOVE my local library for many reasons, one of which is that they have a year-round used book sale. Sure, there’s a lot of really dated books, and you have to chuckle at the sheer quantity of Fifty Shades of Grey seen on the carts. But every once in awhile, I find a true gem; this year, that $1 gem was Euphoria. I remembered the distinctive cover from my bookstore job, but had never even read the brief plot synopsis to know that this book is loosely based on the fascinating life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. Euphoria follows the evolving and dangerous relationship between three ambitious anthropologists in New Guinea. The characters and plot are incredibly well-balanced, and I loved the anthropological lens applied to the whole story. I particularly liked the character Nell, whose widely successful ethnography on the sexual lives of the children of Kirakira (modeled after Margaret Mead’s own book, Coming of Age in Samoa) has made her volatile and jealous husband, Fen, increasingly unpredictable.
“Sometimes you just find a culture that breaks your heart.”
I definitely don’t want to spoil anything about the plot, but suffice to say that Euphoria is impossible to put down. My single complaint is that I wanted more, which is really a testament to King’s writing prowess; she’s a masterful storyteller.
“Nell and Fen had traced away my thoughts of suicide. But what had they left me with? Fierce desire, a great tide of feeling of which I could make little sense, an ache that seemed to have no name but want. I want. Intransitive. No object. It was the opposite of wanting to die. But it was scarcely more bearable.”
Euphoria will stick with you long after you’ve read the final pages which, for me, is a hallmark of an excellent novel.