Based on Zola's 1867 novel, and dramatized by the author in 1873, this play is almost a French version of the Russian novel, Crime and Punishment. Therese and her lover, Laurent, decide to kill her likable but sickly husband, Camille (also her husband), and succeed in doing so without arousing any suspicion. The boating accident that ends Camille's life also makes Laurent a hero for rescuing Therese. The lovers remain apart for a year, until friends of the family suggest they marry. But both are remorseful and guilt-ridden. Finally, Therese's mother discovers the truth, but suffers a stroke and cannot speak. She just stares at them, and her presence drives the lovers down the path to destruction. A powerful and believable story that plays well even today.