One more time! E'Etat de France has difficulty from the meddling of politics with religion. A bitter and quite bias abbe heads a seminary. He sets out to destroy those of his charges for whom he has aversion. When a bishopric that he desires becomes available, he sets about to ruin his rival: one of his own teachers. Not so easy as both are lining up political backers to plead their case with the cardinal. Ah, but the cardinal is a shrewd old goat who can easily obfuscate their attempts to sway his selection. The miliieu for much of the intrigue takes place at the shops of a bookseller and a jeweler: in the mall, by the elm trees. So, in the middle of this muddle, we are treated to sidetracks that appear to have nothing to do with the plot other than to embelish upon the trysting place for much of the machination. One character does recount a story that he has written that parallels the plot of the novel. The novel is replete with esoteric name dropping which, if you are not a student of French history, or read the novel while surfing the internet, tends to make this werisome to read. It is also replete with references to people, places, and dates merely as"..." that is typical of early 20th century writers. Well anyway, who wins the appointment? Ha! It seems that several candidates have appeared from the woodwork, any of whom have a definite chance of gaining the appointment. And, frankly, the author refuses to reveal the outcome. I have tortured myself for nothing.