Saturday, August 15, 2015

Euphoria - Lily King

Last fall I attended the Southern Festival of the Book in Nashville TN with my friend.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to authors explain how they go about writing a book, editing it and getting it published.  I particularly was impressed with Lily King.  She makes extensive preparation when writing, drawing maps, chronologies, family trees and other diagrams of her story.  I put her story based on the life of Margaret Mead and her two husbands on my TBR list.

Margaret Mead was married to one man when she went into the jungle to do anthropological research and met the man that would become her second husband.  With that kernel of truth, King creates a fictional imagination of their relationship and a different ending.

The book teaches a lot about anthropology in the early 20th century.  Each of the main characters has a different gift that makes them suited for anthropology.  One of the men is gifted in learning new languages and the woman in connecting with the natives they are studying.  I liked this quote about communicating without knowing the language:

Quote: "You don't realize how language actually interferes with communication until you don't have it, how it gets in the way like an over dominant sense.  You have to pay much more attention to everything else when you can't understand the words.  Once comprehension comes, so much else falls away.  You then rely on their words, and words aren't always the most reliable thing."

 I liked the realistic portrayal of the challenges of doing research and the emerging science of anthropology.  The relationship between the Margaret Mead character and her future second husband slowly unfolded and the strain of her first marriage was convincingly told.  But overall I was disappointed.  It was not a story of the real Margaret Mead and her men.  It was a story of a similar situation with different personalities and outcomes.  I don't know what was fact or fiction.  I think the book jacket and promotion was misleading.  I might try another of the author's books.

Published:  2014  Read: August 2015  Genre: Fiction

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