Most works of fiction include a disclaimer about how any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental blahblahblah, but in the case of EUPHORIA, Lily King omits that stock epithet because in fact her novel is based on three real people: Margaret Mead, her second husband Reo Fortune, and her third husband Gregory Bateson.
The book is an utterly fascinating account of how Nell Stone (Mead) and Andrew Bankson (Bateson) meet and fall in love. Although it’s clear that King did months and months of research—from the detailed descriptions, we learn precisely what it was like to be an anthropologist living among natives in New Guinea in the 1930s—it reads like a great novel. And if you know what actually happened, you are in for some surprises. Unlike Paula McLain’s THE PARIS WIFE, which remains faithful to the facts of Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley Richardson, Lily King takes a “What if?” approach to the original situation and creates an equally plausible alternative ending.
The result is memorable, and it made me glad that I had a cold and had to stay in bed all day.