Cool, precise, sophisticated, these many fine short stories have fairy tale elements, castles, peasants, eccentric French aristocrats. And although they range in time from the Revolution through the second World War, their ironic twists of fate and personality are timeless, arresting, a little bizarre. In the first section, there is a near-Gothic tale of a family inheritance; a demi-mondaine love affair and another between an aristocrat and a peasant girl who saves him from the Revolution; the death of a peasant couple; and a gambler's story. In the second part this old world fades and the relations between the peasants and the nobility are sharpened in two wars and the Occupation. In the third, there is a longer story of an aristocratic family enclosed in the past who in strange and separate ways triumph over the present. In spite of the overall theme of decaying aristocracy, each story stands by itself--full of dust, life, princes and peasants, a series of echoes and mirrors each neatly turned, tuned and highly polished reflecting a complex society and an ageless way of life. Marvelous and unusual reading, by a superior talent.