325,000 Francs is a story of ambition and failure. Bernard Busard loves Marie-Jeanne Lemercier, but she will marry him only if he finds something better than his dead-end job at the plastics factory and takes her away from the small town where they live in Eastern France. To win her, he gives up his ambition to become a professional racing cyclist, signs a contract to take over a snack-bar on the N7, and, to pay off the balance on the deposit - 325,000 francs - works twelve hours a day for six months at a machine making plastic toys. The novel is remarkable for its dramatic construction, vivid characterisation and clear, economical style. Psychological interest centres on the relationship between Bernard and Marie-Jeanne, but they are also shown in their social setting, and the presence of an observer-narrator involves the reader in a challenging way, while leaving open the interpretation of a novel which, in Vailland's words has, 'toutes les faces possibles de la realite'.
David Nott's edition includes a chronology of Vailland's life and works; an introduction which examines the development of Vailland's ideas, the origins and structure of 325,000 Francs , and its presentation of social and personal relationships; a bibliography; and notes to the text, explaining references and difficult words and phrases.