I just finished this slim volume and I am sad that it's over. It is a wonderful story, really well told. Each character is compelling and we care about them. I am still thinking about them although the novel is read.
This is the story of three anthropologists working in New Guinea, in the 1930's. Told through the eyes of Andrew Bankson, it also includes notes form Nell and husband Fen who are working with tribes up river from him.
Slowly the three are mired in a three-way relationship which is passionately intellectual, theoretical and amorous. There is huge tension as they share working methods, thrashing out theories on the tribal behaviours they observe and their own behaviour as two men in love with the same woman.
Nell immerses herself among the women and children of the tribe and learns that way. She had been published, a fact Fen is jealous of and is constantly trying to prove himself to her and Bankson. He is a surly, moody and possibly violent individual, using fairly unorthodox methods in his investigations.
Bankson is beset with guilt and sorrow over the deaths of his two brothers and father, and dominated by a disapproving mother back in England. He is despondent about life and his work but his passion is ignited as he works with Fen and Nell.
The story builds to a climax, and although the outcome is unexpected, it fits perfectly with the rest of the story.
Well worth reading.