The Eustace Diamonds
The Eustace Diamonds
“We will tell the story of Lizzie Greystock from the beginning, but we will not dwell over it at great length, as we might do if we loved her…”
The third in Anthony 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.
By the end of the first chapter, the penniless orphan Lizzie Greystock has become Lady Eustace, wealthy widow of Sir Florian Eustace, whom she married with great speed, knowing he was suffering from consumption and would not likely be living much longer, (and left, upon his death, with a castle in Scotland and £4,000 a year for her use as long as she lives).
Following Sir Florian’s death, beautiful Lizzie Eustace mysteriously comes into possession of a immensely valuable diamond necklace.
Sir Florian’s family claims it as a family heirloom and considers it the property of the estate. Lizzie, on the other hand, wants to keep the jewels for herself.
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 states 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 diamonds, she is driven to increasingly desperate acts.
She cheats people out of property, commits fraud, tries to seduce multiple men at the same time. She tells lie after lie after lie. She lies to inflate her own importance. She lies for personal gain. She lies to make herself seem like a victim. She lies for revenge. She even admires others when they lie well.
Lizzie Eustace is a magnificent character: wicked, false, incapable of love—yet possessed of such bravado one cannot help but be tempted to sympathize with her.
Though often presented in an amusing way, Lizzie can only be described in modern terms as a sociopath, a narcissist, a hypocrite, a manipulator and a pathological liar.
The Eustace Diamonds is a splendid example of Trollope's art at its most confident.
ANTHONY TROLLOPE (1815-1882) was a British novelist and journalist, one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. He wrote insightful novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical matters. Among his masterworks are the Palliser novels, The Warden, Barchester Towers, and The Way We Live Now.