I should know more about Margaret Mead. As a pioneering anthropologist and an exceptional women of her time, she should resonate as much as Jane Goodall, Madam Curie or Sally Ride. Certainly I associate her name with remote Pacific islands, but that is the extent of my knowledge. Lily King has gone a long way to spur my interest in this remarkable women.
Euphoria is a fictionalized account of one chapter in Mead's varied life. Fresh from publishing her groundbreaking work, we meet Nell Stone (Mead) as she is escaping an unsuccessful tribal study. We glean that the tribe was hostile, and her husband got too involved in their aggressive rituals putting them both at risk.
As they make their way out of the jungle to civilization, Stone and her husband encounter Andrew Bankson. Bankson is an eminent anthropologist known to them both. Bankson is loosely based on Gregory Bateson, Mead's third husband. The story is an imagined account of the development of their relationship.
Stone and her husband accompany Bankson back into the wild. Postponing their plans to leave, they find and inhabit a new tribe. This stay gives us a look into the world of anthropological studies as well as the romantic triangle developing between the three.
The story is complete fiction, but the use of these well-known characters is a clever, engaging device. Showcasing a chapter--albeit imaginary--in their lives makes you want to know more about these fascinating people. Much like an anthropologist's curiosity drives their work, King's story will peak your own drive to know more.
About the Author
Lily King is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Writer's Award. Her short fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train and several anthologies. Euphoria won the 2014 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and many 2014 "Top Ten" lists.