This is the third of the French big three- the Prix Renaudot- and it is the only one which is not nouveau roman. In fact, thinking and talking out loud as it does often at the expense of any real incident- it is almost not a roman. Most of the book is scaffolded on a social visionary's plan to create a communal ""functioning"" entity in glass and concrete on the plain of a French farming district. This is the dream of a liberal technocrat, shared by Laurent, an architect, who ells the story. But simultaneous with- and almost suffusing the idea- is Laurent's love affair with a young girl, Sli. She is interesting, pathologically, for her stic religiosity, her passivity which is a form of withdrawal after the ""unbearable presence of absence""- the death of her brother. Night after night Sli is submissive but elusive when Laurent joins her; finally as the project goes through after a little opposition from local reactionaries) the first harvest comes in, aralleling Sli's readiness for a real relationship.... Quietly interesting at est, and there is a surfeit of sensuous intimacy.