Review: Euphoria

By Lily King
(Atlantic Monthly Press, Hardcover, 9780802122551, June 2014, 368pp.)

The Short of It:

A somewhat entertaining romp through New Guinea that happens to include a love triangle!

The Rest of It:

I had no idea that this book was loosely based on Margaret Mead’s life until I was a few chapters in. Lately, I find myself going into a book blind so I can avoid everyone’s opinions on it but I think in this case I would have read a little more closely had I known about Mead being a basis for the story.

Regardless, I found the book to be quite entertaining.

Bankson, a scientist, fails miserably at killing himself so when he encounters Nell and her husband Fen, also scientists he finds himself slightly obsessed with Nell even though she is obviously married to Fen and promises to find them a tribe to study. Mostly, this is due to his need to keep her around and not so much out of scientific curiosity. Nell is fiercely independent and somewhat aware of Bankson’s attraction to her so there is quite a bit of sexual tension throughout the book. Oddly enough, Fen enjoys having Bankson around as a distraction because Fen and Nell definitely have their moments.

Anthropologically speaking, I think the book needed a little more adventure and a little less romantic tension but that’s just me. I know Mead’s work and attitude toward sex is what shaped the sexual revolution of the 60’s but the book read more like a novel to me than historical fiction. I suppose I wanted a bit more of the history of things.

It was an enjoyable read and well-written but it felt a tad unbalanced to me. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

14 thoughts on “Review: Euphoria”

    1. It will read well, I’m sure. It’s rather dramatic and I could imagine it being read to me even though I read it in print.


  1. I’ve heard so many great things about this one and I still haven’t read it. Looks like I should definitely put it on my Books to Buy List 🙂 I love the sound of a love triangle in New Guinea.

    1. It did make me curious about Margaret Mead’s life because I think this just touched on her briefly and then went its own way.


  2. I haven’t read this one, but I think I read another review that had a similar thought that it would be better with more facts, rather than romance. I’ll probably avoid this one.

    1. Given Mead’s area of study, the romance had a cold feel to it. More of an obsession to me.


  3. I have read this one…and it was good…and I enjoyed it but the living conditions gave me nightmares for days…lol!

    1. Really? The living conditions didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I felt like some of it was left out.


    1. It’s totally bizarre that this fact escaped me! It definitely makes me want to read more about Mead.


  4. Glad you read this one. It’s on my list to read. I loved anthropology in college so I think this kind of book would likely be up my alley. I’m interested in reading more on Mead too. I think I have her autobiography somewhere in my stacks. I will get it out. Maybe I should read it first?

    1. Reading about Mead before reading Euphoria is not necessary. The book is more about the love triangle than the research itself. However, I did want to read more about her after reading it so definitely have something at the ready so you can dive right into it.


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