The novel is about a young girl, Susan, who searches for a convent to join. She joins Longchamp, where she is seduced by the Mother Superior. The plot centers around the physical seduction of Susan by the Superior, yet is complicated by Susan’s inherent innocence. She never realizes the implications of the sexual acts that she takes part in, and therefore, much to the Superior’s frustration, her mind retains its purity. For, in the eighteenth century, a sin could not be labeled as such unless the sinner realized the sinful qualities of their actions, within their own mind. In other words, it did not actually matter what was physically done, but rather what was thought. Therefore, although there is a physical sexual relationship between the two females within the novel, Susan has not sinned “as long as her mind stays pure.” The Superior can only be successful in her seduction if she gets Susan to realize her ‘lesbian knowledge’ and feel shame for it.