The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope

People who read a lot of Trollope tell me that The Eustace Diamonds is not one of his best. I really enjoyed it, though, so now I’m looking forward to exploring other books by this contemporary of Dickens.

Perhaps one of the problems others have with this book is that the heroine is not particularly likeable. Lizzie Eustace lies and schemes and manipulates in order to get what she wants. Mostly what she wants is to hang on to a diamond necklace her late husband gave to her. The lawyers say it’s a family heirloom and so she cannot keep it for herself. Lizzie insists it was a special gift from her husband and so it belongs to her. (She’s lying.) No one will yield.

Along the way, Lizzie almost becomes engaged to her cousin Frank, an attractive lawyer who needs her money, but who is in love with poor governess Lucy Morris. Then she does agree to marry Lord Fawn, who needs her money, but who refuses to follow through with the marriage unless Lizzie gives up the diamonds. Frank becomes engaged to Lucy, who is pure of heart and faithful to a fault, but he still feels himself drawn to Lizzie and to the way of life she could provide for him.

Yes, it’s a soap opera kind of book with a large cast of characters and long plot arcs involving love, marriage and money. There’s also a sly sense of humor at work so that I could sometimes hear echoes of Dickens and Austen. I liked it all, so much so that I didn’t want the book to end. I wanted to continue living in this world, watching to see what these people would do next.

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