A dark-toned chronicle of the heyday and downfall of the rich, concervative, shipowning Donadieu family of La Rochelle, headed in the 30's by father Oscar who has suffered a fatal if questionable, accident as the story opens. He leaves behind his widow, married son and daughter, moody teenage son Kiki and rebellious daughter Martine whose passion for Phillipe Dargens proves to be the dynasty's Achilles heel. Phillipe is the ruthlessly ambitious son of charming luckless theatre owner Frederic who exercises his own spell on the Donadieu women. A saga of greed, petty conflicts and neurotic personalities undermined by the shocking, not totally convincing events that bring it to a close. Moderately engrossing but less than top Simenon.