This is the last book for the season of our library book club, and I don't think we could have ended on a better note. Of course, I may be biased with my undergrad degree in anthropology... but I didn't necessarily study cultural anthropology - just the basics. The concepts are all there, and this was the time when this social science was exploding. New cultures were being discovered and studied ethically (though sometimes not). This cast of characters presents that perfectly. You have Nell, the brilliant scientist who really sees the big picture and observes subjectively and with confidence. Bankson, who has zero confidence and even though he has been trained in school, still doesn't really seem to grasp what he's supposed to be doing in the field. And Fen, who cannot extract himself from the culture at all and seems to be conflicted with joining a tribe or taking advantage of one for his own personal vanity and financial gain.
The narration of this book is perfect as well. It takes a bit to realize who exactly is telling the story, and then see the quick jumps back and forth in time shows the emotional state of the narrator. The language is spot on - and fun considering you've got an American, a Brit and an Aussie as well as all the native languages to the area.
I really don't want to give anything away. This is truly a wonderful book - full of adventure, gorgeous setting, intriguing characters and a spot of romance. I loved it.
by Lily King
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014