The winner of the Renaudot is an assiduous and assured demonstration of the traditional roman d'analyse and it is an intense world of encroaching and dissolving emotional relationships which is examined. Etienne, a young scientist, has been married for a little more than a year to Maia, the daughter of a famous poet, and comes with her to her mother's home where the legend of the dead man is carefully preserved by his widow, Brigitte. But Brigitte is in all ways an unnatural woman, and her household is one of many hostilities and hypocrisies revealed to him by Maia's younger sister, Paula. At first attracted to Brigitte- who is not above seducing her daughter's husband, Etienne shifts his interest toward Paula whose attachments until now have been with her own sex and who confides in Etienne the unhappy history of her father's affair with a young girl, and another sister's suicide, all carefully concealed by the worldly Brigitte and the shallow Maia. But with the discovery of Etienne's feeling for Paula, Maia shows a disconcerting display of feeling and takes her own life, and in so doing releases Paula from the bitterness of the past for a possible life with Etienne.... A fine drawn study of remorseless relationships explored with subtlety and exposed to a worldly cynicism. Not for P. L.'s.