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The Eustace Diamonds (2004)

by Anthony Trollope

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Palliser Novels (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,657357,436 (3.92)2 / 216
The third novel in Trollopes Palliser series, The Eustace Diamonds bears all the hallmarks of his later works, blending dark cynicism with humor and a keen perception of human nature. Following the death of her husband, Sir Florian, beautiful Lizzie Eustace mysteriously comes into possession of a hugely expensive diamond necklace. She maintains it was a gift from her husband, but the Eustace lawyers insist she give it up, and while her cousin Frank takes her side, her new lover, Lord Fawn, declares that he will only marry her if the necklace is surrendered. As gossip and scandal intensify, Lizzies truthfulness is thrown into doubt, and, in her desire to keep the jewels, she is driven to increasingly desperate acts.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Trollope informs readers early on that Lizzie Greystock is not meant to be the second coming of Becky Sharp. She certainly isn't, but her shameless self-interest and whirlwind (for Trollope) origin story concerning her marriage to the soon-to-die Lord Florian Eustace was entertaining. There is a large cast added to the Palliser novels here, including Lizzie's cousin Frank Greystock, M.P. who has seemingly inherited an ability to outspend his pockets, the dutiful and much-petted governess Lucy Morris, the dowager Lady Linlithgow and her observance to the letter of right without ever being good, and the wealthy hangers-on Lord Bruce and Mrs. Carbuncle, and the most tedious and angry pair of lovers I've seen in an age Sir Griffin and Lucinda Roanoke. Trollope can really set a stage. One of the notable things about this work, however, is the plot. Or, rather, what the plot could have been.

There was a nice break from politics in this novel, though Trollope has a bit of fun with the conservative M.P. Frank Greystock and his "nemesis" Lord Fawn. The real plot involves the widowed Lady Lizzie Eustace refusing to give up a valuable diamond necklace that is claimed to be a part of the Eustace estate and, therefore, not to be taken by a widow. Lizzie's insistence on the necklace being her own causes grief between her and Lord Fawn as a suitor, and the diamond's bright glitter attracts the attention of the unscrupulous. When the diamonds are stolen the novel turns away from a social comedy and (dry) legal thriller into a bit of a mystery novel complete with famous detective and cunning members of Scotland Yard competing to be the one to crack the case.

At least, it would have turned into a mystery novel if Trollope didn't somehow think it was ungentlemanly to hide facts from his readers. There is never really a mystery to the reader as to where the diamonds are, only a bit of fluff concerning the mechanics of the theft(s). This isn't a spoiler, the back cover of most editions say as much about the fate of the diamonds. Certain elements of this novel could have become something if Trollope had allowed himself to "trick" his readers, but such is not the behavior of a gentleman. Read 'The Moonstone' instead if you're looking for a fun, primordial mystery-novel from this era. It must be said, also, that there is strong anti-Semitic sentiment in the book. These were the attitudes of the time, but make a book with a turgid plot that much less enjoyable.

The Pallisers

Next: 'Phineas Redux'

Previous: 'Phineas Finn' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Sep 10, 2020 |
A very enjoyable novel well-read by Simon Vance. ( )
  charlie68 | Mar 3, 2018 |
This book had an entertaining plot, but it seemed to bog down in so many side plots that it nearly lost my interest at several points. Clearly, the side plots are meant to enrich and emphasize the main themes of the book, but I like a plot that moves a little more quickly. And some of the characters, particularly the "good" girl, Lucy Morris, seemed flat. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
In The Eustace Diamonds, Anthony Trollope explores the dark side of marriage in the Victorian era. Our heroine, Lizzie Eustace, is a very unlikeable young widow who, thanks to her husband's fortune, has a roof over her head and a steady income until her son comes of age and inherits everything. She is also in possession of a diamond necklace, which she insists was a gift from her husband but by law is not rightfully hers. A lawsuit is brought against her concerning the necklace, and Lizzie pouts and stamps her feet and refuses to deal with it. Her fiance, Lord Fawn, begins to regret his proposal. Meanwhile, Lizzie's cousin Frank Greystock has fallen in love with Lucy Morris, who works as a governess in the Fawn family and is Lizzie's complete opposite: kind, honest, and poor. Frank is a lawyer and Member of Parliament, but in the eyes of his family "needs" to marry money. In that respect, Lizzie would be a much better match and while Frank finds her attractive, he knows Lucy is the better person. When Lizzie's necklace is stolen, the pace picks up and Lizzie becomes further entrenched in selfish deceit.

I liked this book less than the earlier Palliser and Barchester novels. It was darker and lacked the satire Trollope is known for. The characters were unlikeable or boring, and familiar faces from previous books were not sufficiently present to compensate. There was also a strong anti-semitic thread involving jewelers, money-lenders, and a clergyman and while I understand the views expressed were typical of that time period, it made for unpleasant reading. But at least now I can say I'm halfway through the Palliser novels, and look forward to the next one. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Jul 3, 2016 |
Rather a darker installation of the Palliser books than the previous two, with nobody very pleasant except some of our friends from earlier volumes making cameo appearances. This book is pretty much a catalog of horribles, but with one of the most interesting horribles ever written populating its pages. Lizzie Eustace, to put it bluntly, is a real piece of work, a born schemer who can't seem to stop even when she knows she's just hurting herself and those around her. No matter how much you might want to, you can't look away, either. The subplots in this one aren't quite as well-developed (or as interesting) in other Trollope novels, but both, like the main storyline, are quite discomforting.

Now, back to the adventures of our old buddy Phineas Finn, if the title of the next book is in any way descriptive. ( )
  JBD1 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Trollopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gill, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riley, KennethIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sadleir, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, LlewellynIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trollope, JoannaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, TimothyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was admitted by all her friends, and also by her enemies, - who were in truth the more numerous and active body of the two, - that Lizzie Greystock had done very well with herself.
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We hear that a man has behaved badly to a girl, when the behaviour of which he has been guilty has resulted simply from want of thought. He has found a certain companionship to be agreeable to him, and he has accepted the pleasure without inquiry. Some vague idea has floated across his brain that the world is wrong in supposing that such friendship cannot exist without marriage, or question of marriage. It is simply friendship. And yet were his friend to tell him that she intended to give herself in marriage elsewhere, he would suffer all the pangs of jealousy, and would imagine himself to be horribly ill-treated! To have such a friend,—a friend whom he cannot or will not make his wife,—is no injury to him. To him it is simply a delight, an excitement in life, a thing to be known to himself only and not talked of to others, a source of pride and inward exultation. It is a joy to think of when he wakes, and a consolation in his little troubles. It dispels the weariness of life, and makes a green spot of holiday within his daily work. It is, indeed, death to her;—but he does not know it.
"To have been always in the right, and yet always on the losing side, always being ruined . . and yet never to lose anything, is pleasant enough. A huge, living, daily increasing grievance that does one no palpable harm, is the happiest possession that a man can have."
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The third novel in Trollopes Palliser series, The Eustace Diamonds bears all the hallmarks of his later works, blending dark cynicism with humor and a keen perception of human nature. Following the death of her husband, Sir Florian, beautiful Lizzie Eustace mysteriously comes into possession of a hugely expensive diamond necklace. She maintains it was a gift from her husband, but the Eustace lawyers insist she give it up, and while her cousin Frank takes her side, her new lover, Lord Fawn, declares that he will only marry her if the necklace is surrendered. As gossip and scandal intensify, Lizzies truthfulness is thrown into doubt, and, in her desire to keep the jewels, she is driven to increasingly desperate acts.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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