Alain Amparat (ah-LAN ahm-pehr-AH), the only son of the Amparats and heir to Amparat et Fils (Amparat and Sons), an old and respected Parisian silk manufacturing firm, which employs him as its figurehead director. Alain carries himself with the arrogant, slightly bored self-assurance that often accompanies both “old money” and natural good looks. He is twenty-four years old, tall, handsome, and very fair, with good teeth, long cheeks, a slightly equine nose, natural waves in his overly thick golden hair, and clear, grayish-green eyes framed by lush dark lashes. He is condescending toward his fiancée, Camille, whom he characterizes pejoratively as a “typical modern girl.” His commitment is shallow and perfunctory. He fully accepts and loves only his mother and Saha, his cat, the one thing in his life that he has chosen for himself. Soon after the wedding, Alain begins to feel restless, lose weight, and resent his wife’s corresponding heartiness. Because Camille outstrips Alain both sexually and in her ability to live life, he turns from her to Saha, whom he can dominate and who expects no more from him than love and sensuality. Only with Saha, Alain realizes, can he truly be himself. He begins to dread the day when Camille will move into his family home and is relieved when her attempted murder of Saha gives him an excuse to end the marriage and escape back to his childhood paradise with his beloved cat.
Camille Malmert (kah-MEEL mal-MAHR), Alain’s fiancée and later his bride, the nineteen-year-old daughter of a newly rich manufacturer of washing machines. Her family has more money but less social status than the Amparats. She is slim, healthy, dark, and...
(The entire section is 766 words.)