In this most paradoxical of all novels, Destiny takes revenge on the ungrateful cousin Betty. It is a tale of unfaithfulness, deception, betrayal, lust, and hatred, set in nineteenth century Paris, a world of high finance and politics. The Hulots are a wealthy family, and Hortense -- Betty's cousin -- has made a fortunate marriage . . . to Betty's beloved. Hortense is good to her cousin, bringing her to live with them in a beautiful house. The Hulots are good to her, but Betty wants only revenge. Betty tries with all her wiles to destroy the family. Certainly she has many opportunities to do it, because the Hulots are flawed, and intrigue is Betty's favorite sport, intrigue with meanness and cruelty. But no good comes from bad deeds, and life, always ironic, will not allow Betty's deeds to accomplish her revenge. . . .