Le cahier gris ("The Grey Notebook") opens in Paris around 1904. School officials have discovered a notebook containing messages between Jacques Thibault and a Protestant fellow schoolboy, Daniel de Fontanin. The notebooks give evidence of a passionate, but not evidently sexual, relationship between the two. Expecting that the notebook will be misinterpreted, the two run away to Marseille, intending to travel to North Africa by ship. Jacques's father Oscar Thibault, a stern Catholic grand bourgeois, dispatches his older son, Antoine, a medical student, to retrieve his younger brother. In Marseille and unable to find a ship that will accept them, Jacques and Daniel are separated. Daniel is taken in by an older woman, who seduces him. In Paris, Daniel's younger sister Jenny is seriously ill and his mother learns that her husband Jérôme's infidelities have included an affair with her cousin Noémie. Antoine visits the de Fontanins and concludes that Jenny is beyond medical help.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roger Martin du Gard (1881-1958) was a French novelist and winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was born in Paris and worked as a paleographer (the study of ancient literature) and an archivist. In his work as a writer, he brought a spirit of objectivity and regard for detail, and because of his concern with documentation and the relationship of social reality to individual development, his fiction has been linked with the realist and naturalist traditions of the 19th century. His sympathy for the humanist socialism and pacifism of Jean Jaurès is evident in his work. he is best known for his multi-volume work, "The Thibaults", which chronicles the life of two brothers who are raised in a well to do family and their experiences during the First Word War. (The Quest for Total Peace: The Political Thought of Roger Martin Du Gard)