Euphoria, Lilly King

Summary as quoted on a well-known books selling website

Euphoria is Lily King’s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the ‘30’s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is « dazzling … suspenseful … brilliant…an exhilarating novel.”—Boston Globe


Summary if I had written it

Love triangle on the Sepik river. Nell Stone – a well-known ethnologist and writer – and her husband Fen – an ethnologist as well but not as well-known as she is – meet with Bankson who is also studying the tribes of the river. Jealousy, science, violence, love, and lust all mix up to provide a surprisingly entertaining novel which doesn’t end as you thought it would.



Euphoria is loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead who was a pioneer of ethnography in the 1920s-1930s. However, it is not a biography, even though the two other characters are based on Mead’s second and third husband.

I found the book well written. It is not a page-turner but it’s good book. The « romance » part of the story is well thought through and very sensitively written.

The science part is great. Ethnography is a relatively young science and in the 1920s it wasn’t even recognised as a science. People like Mead were pioneers and I thought the novel was a very clever way to show what it meant for these people to work on the field and to invent their own methodology, their own rules.

The description of the societies of the Sepik river, their complexity is also very well researched and makes the book very interesting.

All in all, it’s a good book. The story is original, it’s well researched and well-written. You should really give it a go if you have an interest in ethnography.