The third novel in the Palliser series, The Eustace Diamonds is a satirical study of the influence of money and greed on human relationships in Victorian society.
The story follows two contrasting women and their courtships. Lizzie Greystock and Lucy Morris are both hampered in their love affairs by their lack of money. Lizzie’s trickery and deceit, however, contrast with Lucy’s constancy.
Lizzie Greystock, determined to marry into wealth, snares the ailing Sir Florian Eustace and quickly becomes a widow. Despite the brevity of their marriage, Lizzie inherits according to the generous terms of Sir Florian’s will, which include the Eustace diamonds. When the Eustace family solicitor, Mr. Camperdown, begins to question her legal claim to the family heirloom, Lizzie weaves a tangled web of deception and crime to gain possession of the diamonds. Enlisting the aid of her cousin, Frank, much to the dismay of Frank’s fiancée, Lizzie seeks to avoid legal prosecution while pursuing one love affair after another.
In this third novel of the Palliser series and the one least focused on the politics of the time, Trollope was understood to be commenting on the malaise in Victorian England that allowed a character like Lizzie, who marries for money, steals the family diamonds, and behaves despicably throughout, to rise unscathed in society.
Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds blends elements of mystery, politics, and romance in a memorable work.
Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Trollope will remain one of the most trustworthy… of the writers who have helped the heart of man to know itself.” (Henry James)
I worked hard to finish this very meager story that Trollope stretched into a novel. I found myself longing for Dickens to take over so some of the working class and the poor could have their say. Almost all the characters were shallow, scheming, lying, and selfish - no one I cared about. The only interesting aspect, in a depressing way, was Trollope's unvarnished portrayal of marriage among the upper classes and those aspiring to reach them and, most of all, conniving to secure enough money to lead a comfortable, genteel life without doing a lick of work. I hope the next Palliser novel is more balanced. This was a slow, depressing slog! Simon Vance was wonderful as always. I could even stand this book because Vance was the narrator.
I probably wouldn't listen to The Eustace Diamonds again because I found the story rather slow.
The most interesting aspect of the story was the subplot of a woman with serious misgivings about marrying a man she didn't love. The endless legal talk about the diamonds was the least interesting.
The Duke of Omnium and Gatherum and Lady Glencora were my favorite performances, but unfortunately they only rarely appeared in the story.
I usually didn't listen to more than half an hour at a time. I like the Palliser series, but this was the weakest one so far because the story moved so slowly. I've seen the Palliser miniseries and The Eustace Diamonds was my least favorite part of it, too.
As usual, Simon Vance does a perfect performance.
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