Love Among Rivals
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’m including this review I wrote for Goodreads here because really this is one of the best books I’ve read all year. In some ways reminiscent of Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, Euphoria goes beyond that book in scope, cultural detail, character development, and sheer breadth of story. On one level it tells the story of a love triangle among three cultural anthropologists in 1931, in New Guinea. On another level it explores how we see other people (and cultures), and what that says about us (and our own culture).
Nell and her husband Fen are looking for a new tribe to study when their rival anthropologist Andrew Bankson runs into them. Lonely and on the verge of suicide, Bankson sets them down at a village a few hours from where he’s living, determined to visit often. He does, with devastating results.
A huge amount of research clearly went into this book but the story never sagged from too much detail. The three main characters are unusual and yet believable, and their rivalry (especially the rivalry between husband and wife) is both dramatic and understandable.
I highly recommend this book.
Martha Conway’s new novel, Thieving Forest, won the 2014 North American Book Award in Historical Fiction and a Silver Medal in Historical Fiction in the Independent Publishers Awards, and her first novel was nominated for an Edgar Award. Her short stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Folio, and other journals. She teaches creative writing at Stanford University’s Online Writer’s Studio and UC Berkeley Extension.