Cover to Cover with Lily King’s Euphoria

margaret meadMargaret Mead has long been a hero of mine: cultural anthropologist, adventurer, and all-around fierce role model.

It’s no surprise, then, that Lily King’s Euphoria was on my radar pretty early on in 2014 – and quickly became one of my favourite books of the year.

This fictional account of a female cultural anthropologist is roughly based on Mead’s life and work – with all the drama and dedication that entails. Three anthropologists meet by chance in the New Guinea jungle in the 1930s, sparking competitive instincts in a series of subtle battles for power, for love, for professional and scholarly standing.

And with a lush jungle serving as the book’s background setting, the covers are likewise colourful, vibrant, and lively.

Thematically, there are two recurring themes in these covers. First – and somewhat boringly, to be honest – butterflies.

Kindle edition   Paperback edition II  trade paperback cover

Then again, I’ve never really liked butterflies.

More interestingly (to me, at least), layers of paint – which communicates both the roughness and the vibrancy of these anthropologists’ lives and work.

Dutch edition   Hungarian edition   Original cover

It’s a bit of a game to match up the covers and see how the same image was manipulated into giving a bit of a different effect – because I’m pretty sure all three spring from the same photograph. I’m also beginning to notice that French covers, in particular, tend to pick fairly straight-laced fonts – nothing twirly or curly.

Finally, I’m suprisingly fond of this redesign from graphic designer Patrick VonSpreckelsen:


This image effortlessly conveys the vastness of the wilderness, and the style of the font serves as a bit of a nod towards archaic societal rules that guided both scholarly and interpersonal conduct in the 1930s – a key aspect that forms a good portion of the conflict in this novel. 

Did I miss any covers? Feel free to share your favourites and your thoughts in the comments!

Cover to Cover is a weekly feature appearing every Wednesday. You can browse past posts here


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