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The third in Trollope's six-volume Palliser series,The Eustace Diamondsboasts an extraordinary heroine in Lizzie Eustace, a lying schemer in the mould of Thackeray's Becky Sharp. A pompous Under-Secretary of State, an exploitative and acquisitive American and her unhappy "niece," a shady radical peer, and a brutal aristocrat are only some of the characters in this, one of Trollope's most engaging novels: part sensation fiction, part detective story, part political satire, and part ironic romance. It is also a highly revealing study of Victorian Britain, its colonial activities in Ireland and India, its veneration of wealth, and its pervasive dishonesty. In her introduction, Helen Small explores the central themes of lying and truth-telling, placing the novel within contemporary political and social debates. An invaluable appendix outlines the political context of the Palliser novels and establishes the internal chronology of the series and the relationship between fictional and actual political events, providing a unique understanding of the series as a linked narrative. In addition, the book includes a compact biography of Trollope and a wealth of explanatory notes.
Helen Small is Fellow in English at Pembroke College, Oxford.