Laurence, a beautiful young woman, at first glance has everything you need for happiness: a loving husband, two daughters, an interesting job, wealth, parents, friends. But Lorana, not looking at all this well-being, does not feel happy. She notices emptiness, worthlessness of secular conversations about everything and about anything, sees all the falsity of the people around her. At a party with her mother and her lover, she feels as though she has already seen and heard all this. Dominica, her mother, is a model of good tone, she left her father, who could not make a career, for the sake of the rich and successful Gilbert Dufren, and everyone admires how friendly and beautiful the couple are – a beautiful picture. Dominica and Lorana brought up as a “lovely picture”:
Lover mother Gilbert suddenly asks Lorana for a meeting. She is concerned, suggesting that this is not an ulterior motive. And indeed, Gilbert directly declares to her that he is in love with a young girl and intends to part with Dominica. The wife agreed to finally give him a divorce, and he wants to marry his lover. Gilbert asks Laurence not to leave his mother: tomorrow he will tell her about the break, it is necessary that someone close to her was at her side in a difficult moment. Gilbert does not feel any guilt before the woman with whom he lived for seven years. He believes that a woman who is fifty-one years old is older than a man who is fifty-six, and is confident that a nineteen-year-old Patricia genuinely loves him. Laurente hopes that Dominic will be helped out by pride. She will have to play the difficult but beautiful role of a woman who accepts a break with elegance. When the next day Laurence comes to her mother, she pretends to know nothing. Dominica can not reconcile with the gap, she wants at any price to return Gilbert. He did not tell her who his lover was, and Dominic was lost in conjecture. Laurence does not betray Gilbert, so as not to upset his mother even more. When she returns home, Catherine presents her with her new girlfriend. Brigitte is slightly older than Catherine, her mother is dead, the girl looks pretty abandoned, the hem of her skirt is pinned with a pin. Brigitte seems much older than the infantile Catherine. Laurence remembers how Dominic, once guarding her from unwanted contacts, did not let her make friends with anyone, and she was left without her friends. Brigitte is a nice girl, but does she have a good influence on Catherine, Laurence asks herself.
Laurence and Jean-Charles are on their way out to the country house of Dominique. Among the guests Gilbert. Dominic tells everyone that he and Gilbert are going to Christmas in Lebanon. He had promised her this trip for a long time, and she hopes that if she tells everyone about this, he is ashamed to abandon her. Gilbert said nothing. Laurence advises him to abandon the trip, not saying anything about Patricia – Dominic will be offended and break with him. When Laurence and Jean-Charles return to Paris, a bicyclist unexpectedly leaves for the road. Laurence, who drives the car, abruptly turns off, and the car capsizes into a ditch. Neither Laurence nor Jean-Charles were harmed, but the car is smashed to smithereens. Laurence is glad that she did not crush the bicyclist. Jean-Charles is upset: the car is expensive, and the insurance does not provide for compensation for damage in such cases.
Dominica finds out that Gilbert is going to marry Patricia, the daughter of her former mistress. Gilbert is very rich, and the break with it means for Dominica and the rejection of luxury. She is not able to survive it and, no matter how Laurence tries to dissuade her, Patricia writes a letter, telling her the whole truth about Gilbert. She hopes that the girl will not tell Gilbert anything, but she will break with him. She is wrong: Patricia shows a letter to Gilbert, and he gives Dominique a slap in the face. In a conversation with Laurence, Dominic watered Patricia with foul language.
Laurence discusses with Jean-Charles the behavior of Catherine. She began to learn worse, to her parents. Jean-Charles is dissatisfied with her friendship with Brigitte: Brigitte is older, and besides a Jew. In response to Laurence’s perplexed question, he says that he meant only that Jewish children are characterized by premature development and excessive emotionality. Jean-Charles offers to show Catherine a psychologist. Laurence does not want to interfere in the inner life of her daughter, does not want Catherine to grow up as indifferent to other people’s misfortunes as Jean-Charles, but still gives her consent. New year the whole family meets with Martha – sister Laurence. Martha believes in God and tries with all her might to impose her beliefs on her relatives. She condemns Laurence because she does not lead Catherine to church: faith would restore the girl’s peace of mind. Usually, Dominique spent the day with Gilbert, but now her daughters were invited. Dominic is friendly with his former husband, father Laurence and Martha. Father invites Laurence to go to Greece together. There, Laurence at some point understands that his father is no better than others, that he is as indifferent as others, that his love for the past is as much an escape from life as Jean-Charles’s reasoning about the future. Lorance is sick. On her return to Paris, she feels that her house is no closer to her than the stones of the Acropolis. Everything around is strange, no one is close to her, except Catherine. Brigitte invites Catherine to spend Easter holidays together in their village house. Laurence wants to release her daughter, but Jean-Charles objects. He suggests that not to upset Catherine, go all together to Rome, and then lead Catherine to horseback riding – then she will not have time to meet with Brigitte. The psychologist considers, that impressionable Catherine better protect from shocks. Father Laurence also advises to listen to the opinion of the psychologist, Catherine is upset, but is ready to comply. Laurence experiences, everyone persuades her not to make such a trifle tragedy. Dominica reports that they have decided to live together with Father Laurence. She believes that spouses who have regained each other after long years of separate life, in order to meet the coming old age together, should look worthy. Laurence finally realizes that she was disappointed in her father. Her disease, which manifests itself primarily in nausea, is despair. She is sick of her own life, herself. She does not know whether there is any use for the mole to open her eyes – after all, there is still darkness all around. But she does not want Catherine to become what everyone around her is trying to do, she does not want Catherine to look like her, so that she could neither love nor cry. Laurence releases Catherine for a vacation to Brigitte.