- ISBN-10: 0446796859
- ISBN-13: 978-0446796859
The story's events take place in rural France in the late twentieth century. The protagonist is Emanuel Comte, former school director, now turned farmer and landowner. He is also an owner of a tourist attraction - an old castle called Malevil after the nearby village. Comte is highly motivated, well-respected person with a talent for diplomacy and leadership.
By chance, Emanuel and several of his friends find themselves in the wine cellar of the castle during the unexpected outbreak of nuclear war. The survivors find their surroundings reduced to ashes and rubble. Together under the leadership of Emanuel they start to rebuild. They later discover that other people and animals have survived in nearby farmsteads and villages. Nature begins anew and an agrarian society starts to reform. From time to time more survivors show up, some bringing death and destruction with them.
One of the main challenges of the slowly emerging society is to fend off the threat of a new theocratic dictatorship that has taken over a neighboring village with the assistance of a marauding gang. Emanuel dies prematurely as the new society whose foundation he has helped to create begins to thrive.