This book could also be entitled "Desire and Disgust."Marie and Gilles are madly in love, Gilles convinces his friend, Nicolas, to succumb to the desires of older Madame Agathe, Marie's governess, who can help Gilles to meet with Marie whose mother, Madame Julia Dubernet, does not approve of Gilles Sloan, the local physician's son. Madame Agathe is Count Comblane's daughter (although the old/ailing count has financial trouble with his Belmonte vineyard).Nicolas reluctantly complies with the wishes of Gilles, but the forceful and manipulative Madame Agathe disgusts him even though he proceed with their engagement (reluctantly and with a desire to end it, somehow). This relationship is dysfunctional as our most in the novel (even Marie and Gilles).Finally, Nicolas breaks off the engagement and also his long friendship with Gilles (whom he admires too much) and enjoys being alone with his thoughts (and his Maker). Shortly after Madame Julia Dubernet dies from a lingering ailment, Marie is free to marry Gilles, because Armond, her father, agrees to it.Armond, then, has aspirations to marry Madame Agathe (soon after his wife's death) with the hopes of gaining the Belmonte, the wine vineyard of Agathe's old/ailing father.The author Mauriac focuses on the fallen humans of this half-dead town of Dorthe (near Bordeaux} with all the guilt and despair that result from bad choices connected to wrong or selfish desires. Working at his craft with skillful artistry, Mauriac provides a gift and service to humanity which (he admits)tell us about Mauriac and his views of life than perhaps it does about "real life" situations as they are lived out in the modern world.
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