Euphoria, by Lily King

In one of the multiverses (and now I’m betraying my begrudging enjoyment those movies), I would have definitely lived the life of Margaret Mead.  She was born in Philadelphia, close to where I grew up, went to school at Columbia, where my father did, and traveled to foreign lands to learn about cultures and peoples different from her own, which is exactly what I teach (now that I’ve switched from English Literature to Global Studies where I can travel with my class, when I’m not traveling on my own).  Patterns of Culture blew me away, and so I wrote a character in The Goose Waltzer who is likewise blown away, but to the point where her mind buckles a bit (she ends up painting in huge, dripping letters across her bedroom wall—PERSONALITY IS CULTURE WRIT LARGE— but let’s not blame Mead for that). 

Euphoria is (part) of the story of Mead’s life, written in rich, delicious language that fills your spirit better than food (but not chocolate, nothing satisfies like chocolate).  Maybe it’s her descriptions of the jungle that send me into thoughts of food, but don’t let that discourage you from trying this book.  Euphoria is the first historical fiction novel I’ve read that made me consider writing one myself.  So YES, I FINALLY have a new idea for a story, and I have Mead and King to thank.  Now if I could just actually WRITE it…

I’m doing King a disservice, focusing on myself and food and not giving nearly enough space to the poetry and passion King creates in the character of Margaret Mead.  Go lose yourself in this book, just make sure you’ve eaten first.

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