“I turned to her. Her face looked small and rigid and miserable. We hugged. I held her close and too long. ‘I don’t want to let you go,’ I breathed in her ear. But I did. I let her go. And they boarded the ship.”
Fen and Nell are anthropologists studying tribes in New Guinea in 1933. After studying multiple tribes, the married couple can’t seem to find a place they like or isn’t overwhelmingly barbaric. Until they happen on an old friend, Bankson, who is desperate for company. The three develop an unlikely friendship and make huge developments in their work. While they are lost in the haze of discovery, Bankson and Nell develop a tense sort of relationship. All the while, Fen notices but never says anything. It is a strained sort of love triangle, which ultimately ends in heartbreak and mystery.
I enjoyed this novel and the interesting setting it presented. The humans our three characters study took on a huge role in this book, and I could tell King spent a lot of time researching New Guinea and the culture there in the 1930s. I also appreciated that the story was based off Margaret Mead and her own love triangle. Even though this is a work of fiction, I felt it deepened my understanding of anthropology and the history of New Guinea.
I would have liked for the relationships to develop deeper. I wanted more between Bankson and Nell. I wanted more conflict between Bankson and Fen. I wanted Nell to stand up for herself. I finished the novel, and found myself asking, “That’s it?” I would have liked to see more exploration in each separate relationship.