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Euphoria presents a classic love triangle among three anthropologists in New Guinea between the world wars. The main charcter is Nell Stone, modeled after Margaret Mead, a free-thinking, insightful, deeply empathetic student of native cultures. Her husband Fen is her opposite, cynical, greedy and dismissive of local sentiments. Between them comes Bankson, the narrator, looking back years later on their brief time together in a small village, trying to control their lusts but not their ambitions. The story is well told, more absorbing and suspenseful as the book progresses. The author, like Nell, has a quick feel for other characters. Minor characters are well drawn with a few telling details. You especially feel for several of the villagers whose lives are changed by their observers.
The audiobook has a serious flaw, namely, the drab narration by Simon Vance. Bankson should be an energetic, passionate, vibrant young force of nature, despite his failed suicide attempt at the novel's start. Instead, Vance reads as a depressed and weary old man. This drains the novel of much of its excitement. Xe Sands, reading as Nell Stone, is far better, with the right enthusiasm and wonder in her voice. Overall, however, this was an excellent book.
41 of 42 people found this review helpful
A beautifully-written and compelling book about fascinating people. The anthropologists are as interesting as the tribes they are studying. I could have gone on listening to this for quite a while longer and am sorry it's over. I completely disagree with the reviewers who panned Simon Vance. No, his reading of Bankson isn't euphoric, but neither is Bankson's character. So much of what is going on in the book is in the contrast between his approach and that of Nell and Fen, and Simon Vance and Xe Sands (whom I also loved) nailed this aspect. Great book, great narration all around. I loved it.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
This is a terrific book and would be enjoyed by those who want to be transported to another setting in another era as well as those concerned about knowledge generation and management, research ethics, and international development.
Beautifully written, poignant and redolent with early 20th century colonialism and paternalism, we also learn of the competition between junior academics, their 'ownership' of tribes and contact with Indigenous communities, and ethical guidelines maintained and broken.
Strongly recommended for those looking for an interesting novel (in part based on Margaret Mead) at the interface of development and the Pacific, 'modernity' and tradition, agency and dependancy...
3 of 3 people found this review helpful