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The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope

The Eustace Diamonds

by Anthony Trollope

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Palliser Novels (3)

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1,328315,851 (3.92)2 / 186



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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
I continued to enjoy Trollope's Palliser novels in August with the delightfully devious Lizzie Eustace, who insists that her late husband gave her as her own property the Eustace family diamonds, so that they are not a part of his estate. Her assertion creates all sorts of problems, including the fact that her fiancé finds her assertions distasteful and dishonorable enough that he no longer feels able to honor his pledge. I mostly enjoyed this, although I found it went on rather a bit long about some things. I did specifically enjoy learning the arcane bits of English common law about what does and what does not constitute an "heirloom" (the Crown jewels--possibly yes; the Eustace diamonds--definitely no), and what a widow can claim as her "paraphernalia" after the death of her husband. On to Phineas Redux

4 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Sep 12, 2015 |
This is the third book in Trollope's Palliser series. It follows the drama surrounding Lady Lizzie Eustace. Lizzie Eustace married a rich Lord who gave her (so she says) a diamond necklace worth 10,000 pounds. After he dies, she insists she will not give it up as it was a gift to her, but the Eustace family insists that the diamonds belong to the estate and she can't keep them. After arguing about this for about half the book the diamonds are stolen and there is lots of drama surrounding the truth of the matter for the rest of the book.

It was interesting to me that Trollope shakes things up a bit with this book in a couple of ways. First, it is a fairly dark book. Few of the characters are particularly appealing or redeemable. In other Trollope books, even when characters are behaving badly, I've viewed them more as having human faults than being bad people, but in The Eustace Diamonds I didn't have that sort of sympathy for the characters. Second, he flips the general order of things by focusing on a woman who has plenty of money and is looking for a husband more as a support, protector, and mate. This was kind of nice to see rather than the more familiar story of a penniless woman needing a rich man to secure her livelihood. Unfortunately, Lizzie is so irredeemable that I couldn't give Trollope much credit for this shift.

This book also suffered a bit from not having enough side stories despite its length. I'm used to 2 or 3 stories going on in Trollope's books in addition to the main story. This book certainly had side stories, but I didn't find them all the interesting or enough of a diversion to give me a break from Lizzie Eustace.

Now, all that sounded pretty negative, but I still did enjoy the book. It just wasn't up to the high standards I set for Trollope. Taking the book on its own, I'd give it 4 stars, but in comparison to the other Trollope books I've read, it only gets 3 stars from me. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Aug 8, 2015 |
[Preface to Books and You, Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1940:]

I suggested that you should read The Eustace Diamonds rather than Barchester Towers, which is Trollope’s best-known novel, because it is complete in itself. It seemed to me that really to appreciate Barchester Towers you would have to read the series of which it is part. Neither the motives of the characters nor the results of their activities are quite clear unless you read the novels that come before and after, and I did not think that Trollope was important enough, keeping in view my object of asking you to read books which would be pleasant and profitable, to justify me in asking you to read half a dozen closely printed volumes. And I remembered that there was in Barchester Towers a good deal of that caricature which to us now seems a tiresome feature of Victorian fiction. But now that I have read The Eustace Diamonds once more, I should recommend you even with these slight drawbacks to read the more celebrated book.

The Eustace Diamonds is by way of being a detective story and it has two very ingenious surprises, but it is told at inordinate length. We have learnt a good deal about the manner of writing fiction of this kind since then, and a modern writer could have made a much better story of it by compressing it into three hundred pages. The characters are soundly observed, but not very interesting, and most of them are the stock figures of Victorian fiction. You have the impression that Trollope was trying to write the sort of novel that was bringing Dickens so much success, and not making a very good job of it. The most human character is Lizzie Eustace, but Trollope had apparently, or at least wished his readers to have, so great an antipathy for her that he treats her unfairly, and just as when a lawyer browbeats a prisoner in court your sympathies regardless of his crime go out to him, so you feel that Lizzie wasn’t really so much worse than anybody else and therefore scarcely deserved the hard knocks the author has given her. The novel can, however, be read without difficulty, and for anyone interested in Victorian England there is a good deal of entertainment to be got by observing the manners and customs of that long-past day. This is cold commendation. But though I advise you in place of The Eustace Diamonds to read Barchester Towers, I am constrained to add that you would be unwise to expect too much from it.

The merit of Trollope has of late years been somewhat exaggerated. For a generation he was almost forgotten, and when he was rediscovered, having in the interval acquired the charm of a period piece, greater praise was awarded him than he deserves. He was an honest and industrious craftsman with a considerable power of observation. He had some gift of pathos and he could tell a straightforward story in a straightforward, though terribly diffuse, way; but he had neither passion, wit nor subtlety. He had no talent for revealing a character or resuming the significance of an episode in a single pregnant phrase. His interest now lies in his unaffected, accurate and sincere portrayal of a state of society which has perished.
  WSMaugham | Jun 14, 2015 |
Lizzie Eustace marries a dying man for his money and then schemes to keep control of a diamond necklace which is rightfully a family piece, rather than her personal property. The necklace is stolen and Lizzie lies and schemes away. The third in the Palliser/political series, there is very little politics (although what little there is includes attempts to introduce decimal currency) and not much of the Pallisers either. Lizzie is a wonderful baddie and I am giving this five stars despite a) the obligatory hunting chapters, b) plenty of anti-semitism and c) the fact that I think Lucy should have told Frank where to go. ( )
  pgchuis | Jun 5, 2015 |
In this novel, the third in Trollope's Palliser series, the Pallisers (and politics, for that matter) barely make an appearance, but when Lady Glencora and her crowd enter they bring a breath of fresh air to a book largely filled with grasping, greedy, scheming, and unpleasant characters.

As the novel opens, Lizzie Greystock, a "clever" girl who loves jewelry, marries Sir Florian Eustace, who soon dies, leaving her, for her lifetime, a castle in Scotland and the income from his land. But did he, or indeed could he, leave her the Eustace diamonds, a spectacular necklace which Lizzie has some unscrupulous jewelers value at 10,000 pounds, or are they an heirloom or the property of his estate, either of which means they would belong to Sir Florian's posthumous son? On this question, the first part of the novel turns, as Lizzie stoutly claims Florian gave them to her (indeed, put them around her neck!), but Mr. Camperdown, the lawyer for the Eustaces, and others, believe them to be an heirloom. After a decent interval, Lizzie becomes engaged to Lord Fawn (who readers of Phineas Finn will remember), who instructs her to return the diamonds to Mr. Camperdown for safe-keeping while the matter is resolved. Needless to say, Lizzie refuses, and begins to set her sights on other possible husbands. As Trollope tells us, and as we see for ourselves, Lizzie is a liar, not very good much of the time, but a liar through and through.

At the same time, Trollope tells us the story of Lucy Morris, who is everything that Lizzie is not: honest, hard-working, plain, without a suspicious bone in her body. (Lucy is, in fact, a boring character, not one of Trollope's excellent female creations.) She works as a governess for the Fawn family (Lord Fawn's mother and bevy of sisters, all of whom love Lucy) and is in love with Frank Greystock, a cousin of Lizzie's. She and Lizzie had formerly been friends, but Lucy and she grow distant because of Lizzie's grasping ways. Eventually, Frank proposes to Lucy, and she of course is ecstatic. However, Lizzie and Frank are very close; she turns to Frank for advice, and more, as she begins to think of him as a future husband. Frank needs money, and Lucy can offer him none, while Lizzie has her 4000 pound annual income.

Once the stage is set, a lot of action ensues, including two attempts, one successful, to steal the diamonds. There are a lot of complications, because everyone at first believes the first, dramatic, attempt was itself successful, and Lizzie does nothing to deny this, even though she had taken the necklace out of the iron box in which she kept it. Ultimately, she tells the truth to another potential suitor, Lord George, who she thinks of as her "corsair" (Lizzie longs for poetry and romance in her life, but has only the slimmest acquaintance with the poetry she reads and keeps with her).

This being Trollope, there are lots of secondary characters and subplots, including the vile Mrs. Carbuncle who is first a guest at Lizzie's Scottish castle and then allows Lizzie to live with her in London (for a price). Mrs. Carbuncle is trying to marry off her niece, Lucinda, who is my favorite new character in the book, for she is lively and has a mind of her own; this attempt, which Lucinda rejects strenuously, ends tragically. Then there is Mr. Emilius, a most prominent preacher who, rumor has it, started life in eastern Europe as a Jew, and not only converted but became an Anglican minister; he, like many of the other characters, schemes after his own advancement. The various policemen investigating the burglaries, and the burglars themselves, provide an enjoyable subplot as well, but there are way too many characters for me to discuss them all here.

In this novel, Trollope explores truth and deception, as well as the need to marry for money (even the few likable characters take this for granted), the power that men hold over women since women basically have no rights (in this sense, Lizzie has few options, although she certainly tricks and schemes her way in the world), and the way society accommodates to this. In fact, the men in this novel all have serious flaws, perhaps even more than the women, but society accepts this and castigates the women.

I cannot avoid noting the antisemitism in this novel, obviously a reflection of the times, but more apparent in this book than in others by Trollope I've read. Mr. Emilius, an obviously seedy character, was born Jewish, and the dishonest jewelers are referred to as Jews, among other antisemitic references. It is unpleasant, but of course antisemitism itself is more unpleasant, and dangerous too.

All in all, I didn't like this book as much as others by Trollope that I've read, but it certainly raised some interesting issues.
3 vote rebeccanyc | Apr 26, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Trollopeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gill, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riley, KennethIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnIntroductionsecondary 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.
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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141441208, Paperback)

The third novel in Trollope’s 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, Lizzie’s truthfulness is thrown into doubt, and, in her desire to keep the jewels, she is driven to increasingly desperate acts.

Revised edition of Trollope's third Palliser novel
Updated Introduction explores Trollope's depiction of a society that worships money and highlights his concerns with truth, honesty, and honor
Includes new suggestions for further reading and explanatory notes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:05 -0400)

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Donated by Sarah Forster (GAP student 2000-2001) (ABB55539).

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