Tuesday, January 12, 2010
One holiday project that has slowed to a crawl is the rereading of Anthony Trollope's six Palliser novels. Just before Christmas I described myself sailing along through the books, but it took until today to finish the third novel in the series. The Eustace Diamonds centers on the theft of a diamond necklace worth TEN THOUSAND POUNDS (in 1860s money). In spite of the fact that it is an imaginary necklace, I hoped to find some graphic representation of it, but the few I found were (like the one with the little dots of white paint immediately below) pretty uninspiring.
Lizzie Eustace is a dashing young widow whose ownership of the necklace is disputed by her dead husband's family, so when the necklace disappears Trollope lets himself in for something close to a mystery-plot, though his handling of it is mostly comic. Craftily, he never describes the necklace in any detail, leaving the reader to imagine an unparalleled magnificence, along with a sense that it is heavy, burdensome and even ugly. I did find one rather fuzzy photo here of a necklace of "raw diamonds" in the British Museum that Trollope might actually have seen, and I like to think he did.