Marthe is an unique collection of letters written nearly a century ago and forgotten in the attic of a French chateau - the correspondence of a family of landed gentry, their friends, advisers and servants.
It revolves round the central figure of Marthe de Montbourg and a scandal she sets in train by becoming pregnant, at the age of twenty and unmarried.
To avoid disgrace her mother leaves Normandy with her two daughters for the anonymity of Paris, and thus begins a decade of wandering, husband-hunting, a disastrous marriage, family squabbles, lawsuits and ill-health.
Marthe's family, endlessly preoccupied with money matters and with reputation, nevertheless shows boundless resourcefulness in dealing with adversity.
In this extraordinary document which has only recently been brought to the light, we come to know that family from another world intimately.
Translated from the French by Donald M. frame, with a forward by Frederick Brown.