Responsibility versus happiness. Jean Barnery is a young Protestant cleric in Barbazac in 1900 when he divorces his severe wife after falling in love with Pauline, the independent-minded niece of an upper-crust parishioner. Jean's also an heir to a high-end prcelain factory in Limoges. He gives his fortune to his wife to assuage his guilt over the divorce. He pursues Pauline; they marry and live idyllically in Switzerland. Then, duty calls: his family asks him to come to Limoges to run the business. He accepts, ignoring Pauline's wishes. His new responsibilities, as well as his fighting in the Great War, change him and his relationship with Pauline.
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The tragic story line is of Jean's daughter, Aline, whom he abandons from a very young age, with much regret. The grown-up Aline is a gorgeous Mia Hansen-Love. Tragic, but take heart, she doesn't die... Her life takes a different turn as she grows up without her father--not know of her father's great love for her. His inability to express his adoration of her does frustrate.