The Eustace Diamonds, the
third in Trollope’s Palliser series, can be read alone. It is a good
introduction to Trollope’s theme of money and what the quest for it
does to people.
The novel tells the story of a pathological liar, Lizzie Eustace, the beautiful, young widow of Sir Florian Eustace. Lizzie battles with the Eustace family lawyer over possession of the family’s expensive diamond necklace, even though it will come down to her son. In the course of the plot, she commits perjury; plays on the sympathy of her cousin, a barrister and MP, compromising him with his fiancée; and jockeys him and two other men for the role of husband #2.
The portrayal of Lizzie is Trollope’s greatest achievement in The Eustace Diamonds. Even though her selfishness, scheming, greed, and lying are laid out from the start, the reader never totally loses sympathy with Lizzie. She’s a fascinating character, clever and audacious.
The Eustace Diamonds is considered the least political of Trollope’s six-novel Palliser series. The family members of aristocrat and politician Plantagenet Palliser appear but do not have major roles in the book.
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