Lesser Simenon, circa 1950: a miserable middle-aged woman, with dark secrets in her past, returns to her home-town, finds that her family is even worse off than she is, and discovers (in her new caretaking role) some reason to go on living. Aunt Jeanne is Jeanne Lauer, 57, who ran off with an inappropriate lover decades ago--but now is returning, in need and poor health, to the home of her wine-seller brother. Moments after her arrival, however, brother Robert is found dead: a suicide by hanging. His alcoholic widow is helpless and hopeless. The children of the house--a weak son, a wild daughter, a whiny, widowed daughter-in-law (with baby)--aren't much use either. So it's Aunt Jeanne who starts handling things: she learns of her late brother's WW II shames (collaboration, philanderings, shady dealings); she hears the confessions of her niece Mad, who has turned to promiscuity for the usual reasons (and yearns to be ""clean"" again). And, after revealing her own grimy secrets (living in sin, working in a brothel), Jeanne decides that she will move with the bankrupt family and continue to care for them--even though it will worsen her illness, even though she'll be ""a slave one week and a fearful burden to everyone the next."" A characteristic, depressing (despite the faintly upbeat ending) Simenon novella--but more dated than much of his other, more deeply-felt work.