This is not the first Andre Gide book that I have read and the others varied in their readability but always stuck to a central point – often communism or a blend of naturism.
You sense that this is not going to be too different with the theme being around the balance between religious dedication and commitment to earthly love.
The main character Jerome is orphaned in a relatively short space of time but in between his father’s and then his mother’s death he is introduced to his cousin Alissa. They fall in love but the girl is very religious and becomes even more so after her mother runs off with an officer.
Jerome’s mother then dies leaving him determined to make something of himself but also to seal the marriage with Alissa.