Trust by Hernan Diaz: A review

I finished reading this book a few days ago and, at the time, gave it a three-star rating. But when I sat down at my keyboard tonight to try to review it, I found I was completely blank. I couldn't remember the book. Maybe that three-star rating was a bit generous??? 

In the end, I had to refer to the Goodreads synopsis of the book to jog my memory and to try to recall why I had awarded it three stars. Not a very auspicious beginning for a book review.

I think the problem may have been not so much the book or the writing but simply that I was distracted by other things while I was reading. Sometimes a book can take one out of his/her distraction and focus attention but that proved to be difficult for me in this instance.

Anyway, bearing that caveat in mind, these are my best recollections of and reactions to Hernan Diaz's book.

The book is set primarily in the Roaring '20s in New York with some side trips to Europe. It is the story of a prominent financier Benjamin Rask and his wife Helen. Benjamin is a legend on Wall Street and Helen is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. They seem to possess unlimited wealth and as such, are prime targets of envy and gossip. 

The book is divided into four parts. The first part is a novel within the novel by an author named Harold Vanner. The second is a short memoir by a financier named Andrew Bevel. In the third, a woman named Ida Partenza tells of her time working with Andrew Bevel to compile his memoirs. And, finally, the fourth section comprises journal entries for Mildred Bevel, the wife of Andrew. The plot centers on the world of finance in the late 1800s and up to about the mid-twentieth century. 

I think my main problem with the book was that I just couldn't get into that novel within the novel and I couldn't really make any connection to any of the characters. I couldn't really make myself care much about what happened to any of them. The shifting relationships and the slow reveal of the multiple layers of the story just left me somewhat confused and not really willing to make the effort to sort it all out. So, yes, maybe three stars were a bit generous, but it was my initial reaction and I'll let it stand.  


  1. I saw this one for sale at the little bookshop at the Galveston library yesterday. I have read several reviews of this book and all of them came away from the book with a meh rating. Maybe it has been overhyped and that ramped up what we were hoping to take away from the book.

    1. I had seen positive comment about the book and had looked forward to reading it, so I was a bit disappointed to find that it didn't live up to my expectations for it.

  2. Never a good sign when you can't remember much about a book only days after you finish reading it! ;D When that happens to me I know I was either very tired when I read it, or the book was very unmemorable.

  3. I read Trust last year and gave it three stars on Goodreads, too (I don't publish reviews). I found the concept of the book interesting but the execution somewhat lacking. I interpreted as a story told from four angles, so in a way, four different truths. Which one could you trust? The only story I really got into was the last one, the viewpoint of the financier's wife as her health declined, and maybe that was the story one could trust the most. But, like you, I struggled to understand why it got so many glowing reviews.

    1. Exactly. I just felt that I had missed something that every other reader got from it, so it is comforting to hear that I wasn't the only one!

  4. Ohh good to know. Perhaps I will take this one off my list. I had started it last year and put it down when it wasn't grabbing me but thought I might try it again. Perhaps it's too much finance? The first part seemed very dry.


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