The period - late 19th century; the place- Flanders; the people, the Govaerts, rich in land, more generous than most towards their peasants. Guido at 60, lonely with but one of his children left, and that one, Sylvain, destined for the priesthood, marries a mysterious young woman, Mathilde. She brings evil into the house, as Rudolph, the eldest son, grown rich and cruel and ruthless, becomes her love on his unexplained return. Then Colas, the artist son, comes back, with his Jewish wife. The inner conflicts with Rudolph, epitomizing evil, as he bludgeons and bullies his way to power, plotting against his father, his brothers, come to a head as he is tripped by the fear of his own dark past. The story ends with Mathilde dead, victim of her passions and her weakness; Rudolph, forced to confession, and escaping to Australia; the next generation left to carry on the name -- and Guido, forerunner of a new social pattern, making his estate over to a peasant cooperative....The story itself creaks, the characters are two dimensional, but Van Paassen has a faculty of conveying in atmosphere and mood and tempo, the conviction of deep knowledge and love for the Flemish countryside. His name will promote sales.