In my world Euphoria by Lily King has become known as the book that almost ruined Christmas. And just to be clear, that is a statement of high praise. Euphoria was so good I almost had to forgo speaking to my family, who I’d flown across the Atlantic to visit, until I had finished reading it. Every time someone attempted to talk to me I got nasty. It wasn’t pretty.
Euphoria is set in Papua New Guinea in the 1930s. To a large extent it is a fictionalization of the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. Now I know that may not draw everybody in, but for me it is like brain candy. I have a think for early anthropology and this scratched all those itches.
But beyond that, I think the thing that really kept me going with Euphoria was the delicate power relations between a couple where the woman was considerably more talented and well-known that the man. Through exploring this dynamic, King has crafted a story of love, intrigue, manipulation and discovery. It was a serious page turner that forced me to snub my family.
Who would like this book? This is an obvious no brainer for those who enjoy a story with an anthropological bent. I would also highly recommend it to anyone who like Savage Harvest, which is true account of an anthropological excursion to Papua New Guinea. And it should be noted that both Euphoria and Savage Harvest were two of my favorite books of 2014.
This book keeps surfacing in my sights, I may have to add it to that endless list. I graduated with a degree in Anthropology in 1983 and even then, Margaret Mead was unquestionable. But as with so much classic anthropological the background stories were strange, even tragic for the researchers and their subjects.
Ok, given your background, I’d say Euphoria is a must read for you.
Day 4 of the new year and I have added this novel, a memoir and a non-fiction read to my “list” just today. Help! 🙂
Totally agree that the dynamic between the three characters is what made the book so interesting. I was SO thrilled to see something like that. Glad to see you enjoyed it, too!
Have you read anything else by King? If Euphoria is any indication, i need to read more by her.
I can totally see this causing problems around the holidays. I try to choose my reading wisely near the end of December. I’m glad to hear you loved it, though! I think I need to go check out Savage Harvest…
I hear such good things about this book, I might have to pick it up sometime
I love the opening of this post! The Miniaturist was like that for me over the holidays. I almost skipped out of a New Years party to read. But I, too, thought Euphoria was absolutely wonderful. Great point on the dynamic of the power struggle between the couple.
I keep hearing good things about The Miniaturist but ive stayed away from it bc i don’t usually like historical fiction. Maybe i’ll see if the library has it.
I keep hearing amazing things about this book so I’m going to try and read it soon. It sounds like exactly my sort of thing 🙂
The anthropology angle does not draw it in – I made the mistake of taking an intro to anthropology in my first year at university and almost ended my life I was so bored. But the power dynamics you speak of do intrigue me. Maybe if this book finds me.
If it makes any difference, I hated first year anthro and I almost failed because i never went to class. But i somehow ended up with an anthro based PhD, so i feel confident in saying it gets better. Besides this book is all the gossipy bits and a darn good tale.
I do like gossip…I will keep an open mind.
First year anthro was just the complete worst.
I’m more into botanical exploration than anthropology of the time period, but the relationship interests me. I’ve noticed that a lot of botanical explorers in the first half of the 20th century brought along their wives — the guy gets all the credit, though. It would be interesting to read about a couple where that wasn’t the dynamic.
Definitely. It’s nice to see a woman triumph.
I really enjoyed the post. As i was reading it I didnt realise my partner was reading it over my shoulder till she commebted that their relationship is ‘exactly the same as ours!’ – so at least am clear where she thinks the talent lies in our house!
I need to put this book into my brain immediately. It sounds fantastic!
Leah, this is so totally up your alley. I’m convinced you’ll love it.
This book was one of the daily deals at Audible during the holidays and I ALMOST caved and bought it. I’ve been regretting that ever since! Ugh!
Oh yeah. That was a mistake.
I haven’t given Euphoria its due attention. It definitely sounds like something I’d like!
I can’t recommend it enough.
This was a #30Authors recommendation and I still need to to read it. The more time goes by, the more good things I hear about it.
Seriously, i loved it.
Great review of a very good book. Thank you. We have added this cover to our Pinterest Board ‘Book Covers that caught our eye’ – the cover in fact depicts a Rainbow Eucalyptus, never come across one before!
I know, I’ve never seen a rainbow eucalyptus in real life, but now it’s on my to-do list! Thanks for popping by.
I gave this book as a gift at Christmas and now I want to read it too! It sounds like a winner.
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