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Synopsis & Review
Inspired by the research and loves of Margaret Mead, Euphoria follows the tangled lives of three anthropologists working in the remote, verdant jungles of New Guinea. At the heart of the novel is Nell, whose brilliance, passion and vulnerability ignites the interest of gentle-hearted Bankson, along with the envy of her own husband, Fen.
Vafa rolled his eyes when I found this book. “A love triangle?” he said. “Cheesy.”
Despite Vafa’s skepticism, Euphoria is more than just a ‘love triangle’. Yes, King sometimes relies on cliches and clunky foreshadowing. But it’s forgivable. This book delivers a smart exploration of gender, sexuality, and intellectual pursuits–why we humans are drawn to the things and people we’re drawn to. King embodies her characters’ voices with wit and emotion, and she renders the setting and plot with rich descriptions. Simply put: I was hooked.
The love, intellectual fervor, and jealousy that develops between Nell, Bankson, and Fen as they study the Tam people put their careers and lives at risk. The novel builds to a euphoric, tragic denouement that had me up till 2 AM devouring every last word.
Euphoria is well-structured, poetic, and gripping–a intense-but-quick read.
And A+ for the cover design–which is an image of the bark of the rainbow gum tree, a native New Guinea plant!
“Despite everything, I believed somehow there was time. Love’s first mistake. Perhaps love’s only mistake” (212).
Nell: Alicia Vikander, who is brilliant in just about anything, but could capture perfectly Nell’s genius, compassion, and vulnerability
Bankson: James McAvoy, everyone’s favorite for a forbidden love interest (ahem, Atonement)
Fen: Liev Schreiber to play this volatile and exaggeratedly-masculine character
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver–for gorgeous descriptions of the wilderness, ill-fated love stories between scientists, and an exploration of ethical questions related to our dealings with the environment.
Or perhaps Margaret Mead’s real-life research on gender.
What books are you reading lately? Have you read Euphoria? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
I remember cozying up with Vafa at an Italian restaurant in London last New Year’s Eve, making plans for the year ahead. 2015 seemed brimming with possibility! After that trip, I would finally be joining Vafa full-time in Washington DC. We both hoped for a year ahead of travel, time with family and friends, and new creative endeavors. Also to eat better and exercise. You know, the usual.
Of course, we had no idea what 2015 would bring….like a move to Boston, new work for both of us, and many unexpected adventures! (It was also another year of unkept resolutions to exercise daily. Ah, well. There’s always 2016.)
Anyways, here are a few highlights & favorites from the past year…. [Read more…]