Winner of the Prix Femina, this book is being launched with a certain fanfare which may catch the reader unaware in expectation of something quite different from the actual fact. For here is a book for a sharply defined and definitely limited market. A book for those who like sustained study of psychological import, of recreation of the child mind during the years of adolescence, and -- in retrospect -- a crossing and recrossing from realism to fantasy and back. It is the story of a family under the Third Republic in France, with prosperity according to rural standards, before the War of 1870 -- with increasing poverty afterward. The background of village life, of the village characters and those on the fringe of the outside world, all this is skilfully made a part of the pattern. But the story is illusive, intangible, more in the mind than in event, and not easy reading. Not for the Rolland or the Romain market; rather the Fournier fan.