This novel is one of the pillars of the Scenes of Provincial Life section of Honore de Balzac's story cycle The Human Comedy. Through a series of tragedies and coincidences, a kind and pious teenager named Ursula has been taken in by an octogenarian doctor, Denis Minoret. Inspired by Ursula's goodness, Minoret decides to make her his chief heir. This incites the ire of his other relatives, and a ruthless war for Minoret's estate breaks out.
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