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on July 10, 2004
The Trollope lover will not think of missing this, the culmination of the Palliser novels, but will love Trollope a little less after reading it. It is all the things detractors of his work complain of -- plotless, rambling, dull, fussy, trivial. It is a story written not from an irresistible energy to tell it, but from a pair of good ideas: to echo the circumstances of the Duke's own marriage to his late beloved Glencora in an ironic way, and to show that the social changes brought about in part by his own lifetime of Liberal politics have resulted in a world and a way of thinking that Palliser himself cannot accept. Maybe a Henry James could put enough flesh on this scheme to render the narrative human and alive, but THE DUKE'S CHILDREN is sadly inert. It is the sort of book that tends to make a good movie: its conception is more interesting than the pages inside it.
The Duke's children are too slight and too dim to hang a novel on; and the characters from previous books who never fail to engage us -- Marie, Phineas, and Palliser himself -- are mostly either absent or seen in isolation, fuming alone in studies and drawing-rooms. The obligatory hunting and shooting scenes are engaging but beside the point, and the presence of Major Tifto and his racetrack story are a great annoyance. The bitter, disappointed Lady Mabel adds some intermittent liveliness whenever she appears, but even she wears out her welcome. (And she is, conceptually, much too near a relation to Lady Laura in PHINEAS FINN and PHINEAS REDUX.)
Finales are never Trollope's best event. He will muff them or mute them or present the scenes of his happy endings as if viewed from a distant tree-top. I could wish the Palliser saga ended at THE PRIME MINISTER, which is superb, with perhaps a little coda telling us how Trollope saw Plantagenet Palliser's future life. That the little coda should be bloated into a mammoth vexation like this one is not uncharacteristic, but is surely unfortunate.
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on March 11, 2004
Lady Glencora Palliser is dead. This must be understood or nothing wonderful can come of this tale. The last installment of Trollope's Palliser series begins with this sad development. Long Victorian faces grow even longer with grief. Now ex-Prime Minster, Plantagenet Palliser must cope alone with the foibles of his three adult children. As the reader discovers, their expectations are not consistent with their father's ideas. Typical of Anthony Trollope, the story unfolds leisurely for 600+ pages. Regardless, the quiet little story urges one to keep turning the pages. 19th century British politics, social customs, and romantic attitudes seem quaint, even amusing, by today's standards. Much as the writings of Jane Austen, reconciling marriage and money drive the story. Trollope's elegant style is a delight. The reader is lulled into a quiet sense of relaxation. No great truths or insights to report, but good downtime reading. Appreciate the novel as you would a fine painting or a delicate antique tea set. If one seeks a pleasant diversion from the noise, clatter, and electronics of modern life this is recommended reading. Relish the experience. ;-)
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on July 16, 1998
The Lady Lizzie Eustace, a beautiful young widow, claims that her husband gave her the extremely valuable diamond necklace to be her very own. However, Mr. Camperdown, lawyer for the estate, says that it is a family heirloom and must be given up. Lizzie, for whom lying is always more natural than telling the truth, stubbornly clings to the diamonds, taking them with her everywhere, rather than entrusting them to some safe depository.
But then there is a skillfully performed burglary, and the jewels are stolen from her hotel room in Carlisle. Or are they? Did Lizzie just use this scheme to make the diamonds disappear? Why is there a second burglary at her London apartment? The novel becomes a fascinating detective story.
Lizzie longs for a husband to share her problems. But which man is it to be? There is Lord Fawn, to whom she is engaged, but who breaks with her because of the diamonds. Lord George, a rather shady character, intrigues her with his swashbuckling mann! ! er. Then there is her ever loyal cousin, Frank Greystock, but he is supposedly engaged to a penniless nonentity, Lucy Morris.
Lizzie Eustace is one of Trollope's most interesting characters--beautiful, strong willed, intelligent in her way, but utterly untrustworthy, constantly scheming to get what she wants and always able to justify her actions to herself. It is no wonder that even the similarly mendacious Lord George is afraid of her. Lizzie alone makes this third novel of the Palliser series well worth reading.
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on July 30, 2002
Lucy Morris is a bore. If you like Jane Austen you will like this novel! It has all the necessary ingredients to keep you turning the pages. It's fun and charming to read just like its heroine Lizzie Eustace. Trollope argues that she is no heroine at all but it is when she appears that your interest is held the longest and that you laugh the loudest. She is wicked and selfish and vain and yet childike spoiled and that's what makes her great. Lucy Morris in comparison bores you with her goodness and her morality and her prim and proper attitude which although greatly admired in 19th century women leaves her nonetheless dull and insipid in comparison to charmingly wicked Lizzie.
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on March 7, 1999
With movies being adapted from books by Austen and Forster, what's left of Trollope. I stumbled across this book by accident, having never before heard of it's title and author. When I did some research on Anthony Trollope, by golly he was as popular as Eliot and Dickens in the Victorian Time Period.
As for the book, this is a true classic of the Victorian Era. Romance, rivalry, jealousy, money, family feuds, death, and new life, this book is fabulous.
Everyone should have this book in their library. It's a delight to read over and over again.
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on June 27, 2000
It is hard to choose my favorite Trollope but this is definitely right at the top of my list. It has everything a novel needs to pique your interest and keep you turning the pages--love, intrique, mystery, jealousy. It is a must read for a Trollope reader. And do yourself a favor. If you have kids, introduce them to this prince.
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on May 28, 1999
Anthony Trollope is fabulous. A suspenseful story of a vain young woman who's old bag husband dies, and soon enough the famous Eustace Diamonds are gone! Is it rightfully the woman's? Who claims to not know of it's whereabouts? Or is it the Eustace families? Hehe, what a treat to read!
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on March 9, 1999
I had once heard a defination of a "classic as a book to be admired but not read." This book definately defied all that. It was great read. Funny, touching and warm. A witty husband, a pain for a wife. Do read. This is from a 18 year girl, so a must read for all.
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on June 10, 1999
It's a pity that such a well reknown writer of the Victorian era is so erased and forgotten in our days. Read Trollope, he's an equal unto Forster and Austen.
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