Though the theme of this Femina prize novel may be antipathetic if not repellent to some, -- the transmission of a social disease down through several generations, -- it is handled with such sympathy and delicacy that the tragedy is at all times moving. To counterbalance the sordid legacy which inevitably recurs, whether as a physical or mental or moral taint, there is the fine portrait of a Norman peasant. Stoic, intelligent, tender, Hurel is doomed to his perpetual strife against insanity and intemperance, a succession of ordeals imposed by the ignorance and inarticulateness of his race and era. Particularly tragic is the story of the little granddaughter, the frail enfant dupee. In addition, there is the skillful delineation of the Norman peasant scene, the flavor of their dialect, the daily routine of master and servant, etc. It's a powerful book in its social implications as well as its individual tragedies, in its psychological depth, and in the sobriety of the narration.