The story of an ill-starred love which doesn't quite come off despite its many searching moments and the textural enrichment of its setting in a French village near the sea. Lovely, widowed Pauline, a princess by marriage, is banished to an ancestral estate by her feudal father-in-law. There she is supposed to vegetate alone and prepare herself for a becoming second marriage of her father-in-law's choosing. But Pauline falls in love with the estate manager, Liavrec, a full-blooded peasant who became a doctor and is planning to do research on malaria. Knowing that her father-in-law will not sanction their marriage, she becomes Liavrec's mistress, defies the old man and precipitates the stroke which kills him, and then discovers that Liavrec is leaving her for a research job in the tropics. He returns two years later- but her love had chilled.. The nature of the beast is of course unpremeditated passion; the nature of the market however is even less predictable.