"Set around the 1920s Wall Street boom and crash, this moving literary puzzle packs personal and cerebral punch through stories within stories that unpack the nature of truth, power, and our relationship to money."
Like shards of light glinting through a prism, Hernan Diaz’s Trust casts multiple perspectives on the same privileged married couple to reveal truths about human nature, the nature of truth, and our connections to capital.
It’s a cunning, captivating novel with all the draw of a mystery as it presents stories within stories within stories, unwrapping different realities through writing that spans the muscular, the beautiful, and the elemental. Exploring power, money, privilege, intellect, guilt, and finding ways of living that are at odds with the norm, it’s a moving literary riddle with emotional drive.
At the heart of this Russian doll of a novel is a 1938 novel called Bonds. A book that’s taken New York society by storm for its account of an eccentric, ultra-wealthy couple during the age of excess – Benjamin Rusk, a socially awkward Wall Street tycoon, and Helen Rusk, a socially awkward, whip-smart woman who was born into aristocracy and becomes a philanthropic patron of the arts.
But some challenge how Bonds presents the real-life couple (Mildred and Andrew) on which the Rusk’s story was based, as Trust’s other stories reveal with tremendous dexterity when a young woman, Ida, is hired to present (a different version of) the couple’s truth. The novel culminates in an exquisitely orchestrated crescendo when we’re given access to Mildred’s journal through Ida’s attempt to sift fiction from fact.
Appropriately enough, towards the end of Trust, Mildred’s journal quotes a music-themed line by Jean Rhys: “The orchestra played Puccini and the sort of music that you always know what’s going to come next, that you can listen to ahead, as it were”. While knowing “what’s going to come next” is keenly pertinent to Mildred and Andrew’s story, this quote also riffs on the nature of Diaz’s wider novel – it is unlikely readers know what’s coming next, and that’s part of the point; deception often runs deep and lurks beneath multiple ruses.
De-shrouding truth and myths around money and the desire to acquire it, Trust is the kind of special novel that has the power to shift how we see the world.
|Primary Genre||Literary Fiction|