Short summary - The Possessors - Les Grandes familles - Maurice Druon

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Possessors - Les Grandes familles
Maurice Druon

In French, this novel is called The Great Families, and it deals mainly with the old aristocratic family of La Monnery and the family of Austrian-born major financiers, the Schudler.
In January 1916, representatives of these two families paid a visit to one of the Parisian maternity hospitals on the occasion of the birth of Jean-Noel Schudler, Jean-Noel is the grandson of the elderly poet, who is at the zenith of fame, the "romantic of the fourth generation" Count Jean de La Monnery, who came together with his wife Juliette, the baby's grandmother. This family is also represented at the meeting by the poet's brother, the Marquis Urbain de La Monnery, and herself. woman in labor. Jacqueline, now bearing the name Shudler. Jean and Urbain have two more brothers: Robert is a general and Gerard is a diplomat. Jacqueline François's husband is not here, because he is at the front, but the ninety-year-old Siegfried, the baby's great-grandfather, the founder of the Schudler bank, his son, the manager of the French bank, Baron Noel Schudler and his wife Adele, respectively, the father and mother of Jean's absent father, came. Noel. The visit was interrupted by a raid by German aircraft that bombed Paris, and the next meeting of the heroes took place at the end of 1920 at the bed of the dying Jean de La Monnery. Here, in addition to family members, the thirty-three-year-old scientist, a native of a peasant family, Simon Laschom, who wrote a dissertation on the work of Jean de La Monnery, and the famous physician Lartua. Simon meets here with Isabella, Juliette de La Monnery's niece, who later becomes his mistress, and at the poet's funeral he also meets the Minister of Education Anatole Russo, thanks to whom he leaves his teaching job at the Lyceum, goes to the ministry and, since he is not devoid of abilities , is rapidly beginning to make a career. He is married, and therefore, when Isabella became pregnant with him, Madame de La Monnery arranges for her to marry her longtime admirer, seventy-year-old Olivier Ménière. The newlyweds leave for Switzerland. There, Isabella has a miscarriage, and after a while Olivier, unable to withstand the overloads of a happy family life, dies. Meanwhile, Simon Lashom has a new mistress, Marie-Helene Etherlaine, who until very recently was Jean's mistress. de la Monnery.
Here in the novel another figure appears - fifty-seven-year-old Lucien Moblanc, who is by mother's brother to the poet Jean and all the other brothers of La Monnery of the older generation. At the same time, he is the ex-husband of Baroness Adele Schudler. Outwardly, he is ugly, but very rich. He is called the king of gambling houses and nightlife restaurants.
One fine day, Noel Schudler invites him, the ex-husband of his wife, for an important conversation in his office. This conversation is preceded by a conflict between Noel and his son François. Going to America for two months, he instructs his son to run the newspaper Eco de Matin, which belongs to him, among other things. He successfully copes with the task, but at the same time makes a number of necessary reforms in the newspaper, somewhat rejuvenates the staff and gains such authority among his subordinates that this causes a fit of jealousy in the father who returned from the trip. And the immediate cause of the conflict is François's intention to appoint to the post of head of the foreign policy department Simon Lashom, too young, in the opinion of his father, who at that moment has a slight pause in his political career. As a result of this generational conflict, Noel Schudler, having taken away the newspaper from François, entrusted him with the work of the Sonschelles sugar factories. François is also undertaking modernization there, which promises big profits, but at a certain moment requires additional capital investments. It would not have been difficult for Noel Schudler to find funds, but since François in some way violated his instructions, his father decides to teach him a lesson.
It is for this purpose that he invites Lucien Mobland, who also has a stake in the Sonschelles sugar factories. Shudler, offering him his shares, gives Moblan the impression that the Shudlers are on the verge of ruin. Moblan, who has long hated the Shudlers - among other things, for spreading rumors of his impotence along with his ex-wife - decides, as Noel expected, to sell his shares in the sugar factories in order to accelerate the collapse. The stock price is falling. Noel expected, after waiting two or three days, to buy them at a lower price. But since he does not say anything about this operation to his son, but, on the contrary, assures that everything is happening because of his mistakes, François goes to bow to Moblanc and, after hearing a cynical admission that he longs for the ruin of the Schudlers, commits suicide. This death gives rise to panic among the depositors of the Shudler Bank, who urgently begin to withdraw their money. There is a threat of a very real bankruptcy of the Shudlers. But Noel Schudler copes with the situation and doubles his profits, thus earning even on the death of his own son. However, the true winner is still Lucien Moblanc: having lost ten million francs in two days, he can be proud that he sent one of the Schudlers to the next world.
Jacqueline Schudler, who sincerely loved her husband, suffered mental trauma, miraculously avoided a cerebral hemorrhage, and remained bedridden for two months. She recovers very slowly, and loved ones begin to take steps to restore her peace of mind through religion. The Dominican priest they invited really helps her: she begins to get out of the crisis. And Noel Schudler, having studied the papers of his son, is imbued with his ideas and begins to reorganize the newspaper in accordance with his plans. Moreover, he passes off the ideas of François as his own and hatches plans of vengeance on Lucien Moblanc. And he, trying to prove to everyone that with his potency, contrary to the Schudler's slander, everything is in order, intends to have a child and in this regard allows his mistress, a young actress with the stage name Sylvain Dual, to fool himself. Since Moblanc promised Sylvain to give her, if she gives birth to a child, a million francs, she, having gone far to the province with a companion who was really pregnant, returns a few months later with twins and bargains from Moblanc for two million. Simon Lashom, whom Noel Schudler, meanwhile, lures from the ministry to his newspaper, learns about Sylvena's trick and informs his master about it. The fate of Moblant is in the hands of Shudler. He decides to take advantage of the greed of the heirs of Moblana, who are not satisfied with either the extravagance of the latter, or the unexpected appearance of two more heirs. Shudder consults with lawyers and finds out that he can initiate a case for custody of Moblan in such a situation. After all, he, Shudler, is the guardian of his grandchildren, these grandchildren, in turn, are his relatives, therefore, and potential heirs of Moblana. He, Shudler, cannot watch the money squandered, which rightfully belongs to those whom he takes care of. And he convenes a family council, which, as it turns out, has very broad powers. Especially if the magistrate is there. At the same time, bribing Minister Anatol Russo under the guise of a fee for legal advice, he enlists the latter's support. Everything is working out as planned. As a result, Noel Shudler himself becomes the guardian of Moblana.
In the meantime, Adey Shudler falls ill with cancer. Siegfried Schudler dies. Moblan gradually degrades mentally. And then one day Isabella is summoned to an insane asylum, because there was a man posing as her late husband Olivier Ménière. This person turns out to be Lucien Moblanc. The day after Isabella's visit, he dies. By that time, the heirs had already divided all his millions among themselves, and none of his relatives came to his funeral.