This is a marathon (almost three-hour) film based on Québécoise writer Anne Hébert's eponymous novel which in turn is based on a true story. Following from the now disgraced Jutra's successful Mon oncle Antoine, it's not too difficult to discover the reason why this was a box office failure: it's not too easy to follow because it's chopped up, most if not all scenes springing from the main character's mind in an often stream of consciousness style. The fact that it's a historical film set in the 1830s didn't help it any either.
Élisabeth d'Aulnières (Geneviève Bujold) marries the seigneur of Kamouraska Antoine Tassy (Philippe Léotard), and on the face of it it would appear that she's very fortunate in marrying a handsome young man who owns a vast area of land. However, her deflowering is brutal and Élizabeth comes very quickly to realise that she's married a violent drunkard and a frequenter of brothels. She longs to escape, and her family is on her side.
And then along comes her doctor Georges Nelson (Richard Jordan) and they fall in love. The monster must be killed. The servant Aurélie is more or less bribed into doing the deed by giving him a poisoned drink, but it doesn't work. Tassy disappears for some time, Élisabeth is pregant by Georges, and Georges performs the bloody murder. He is disgusted that Élisabeth has had sex with Tassy to make it look as though it's his baby, but anyway now that the impossible love has now become possible, paradoxically it's also now impossible: George flees to the States and to keep up appearances Élisabeth is reluctantly obliged to marry Jérôme (Marcel Cuvelier), which is where the story started: after twenty years of marriage Jérôme is dying and Élizabeth is reflecting on her life.