Oh my goodness! This book broke my heart over the weekend... I've probably said too much already, so without spoiling the end anymore than I might have already, I want to tell you about Euphoria by Lily King.
The first I heard about this book was here, followed by here. As I like how these women write, I figured it was worth getting my hands on a copy, and after a short wait I was able to borrow it from the library.
It was well worth the wait.
Oh my goodness! It sucked me in: I could feel the tropics, smell the cooking fires, taste the breadfruit and yams, and see the lake where most of the book takes place. Euphoria is electric, vibrant, gripping, tantalising, and beautifully written. It made for excellent reading while resting an ouchie knee.
King has taken the story of groundbreaking anthropologist Margaret Mead and created a piece of fiction that is engaging and quick to read. I keep wanting to use the word "elegant" to describe it but there is too much sweat and grime and passion in the pages. I could gush and gush about it, but then I remember King's efficiency with words, so here's a little from the dust cover:
[...] King's new novel is the story of three young, gifted anthropologists in the 1930s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and ultimately their lives.If you're over winter, if it is winter where you are, this book is set in the Territory of New Guinea, which is now part of Papua New Guinea. There is sweat, humidity, and mosquitoes in the pages.
My own time in the tropics, my year in Samoa, is probably the main reasons this book struck such a strong chord with me. Every time Lake Tam was mentioned or visited, I saw Lake Lanoto'o, even though it has no beach. I remembered the heaviness of the air. I remembered how dry the dry season can actually be. Whenever the rivers were mentioned or travelled on, I thought of scenes from the African Queen.
Like Lake Lanoto'o, Euphoria is now etched into my mind. It has provided an interesting and unexpected link between the year Michael and I lived in Samoa and our time here in Manhattan. Getting to Lake Lanoto'o is not easy, and it was not easy to put Euphoria down. It sucked me in and broke my heart. It was a very good read.