The first in what is to be a series of novels about the period after the Napoleonic wars, by a well-known and graceful French writer. The style is courtly and panoramic; and, no doubt because the book is mostly setting up themes to be developed later, the content seems a trifle thin. Russian and French worlds, and the theme (apparently of social revolutions) are drawn together by means of a love story. Nikolai, a well-born young Russian officer, comes into conquered Paris with the Czar's army, and is billeted in the wealthy Lambrefoux household. After an affair with a too-easy Parisian matron, he meets the Lambrefoux' intellectual widowed daughter, Sophie, and is drawn to her by all the well-born Russian's love of ""things of the spirit""...and by her beauty. She rejects him. The Army leaves. A year later, after Waterloo, the Russians are again in Paris. Nikolai, finding Sophie again, learns that her political sentiments for freedom, even for revolution, have gotten her into trouble. But disregarding this and overriding his father's injunctions to give her up, he marries her nonetheless, quits the Army, and takes her to Russia. His father throws them out, but gives them a house in St. Petersburg. The scenes in Russia are beautifully described and provocative. It is to be expected that Sophie, strong-willed, cultured, hating serfdom, will be a disturbing element in her new country; and that Nilolai, still a stubborn boy, will become a powerful man. The book is pleasant reading in itself, with its swirl of cities, armies and political stirrings. M. Troyat has a nice eye for big scenes. But the real meat, perhaps, is yet to come.