A biography of Claudine-Alexandrine Guérin de Tencin, called Madame de Tencin, known for her "scandalous" personal life as well as for her romance novels. She was born into an aristocratic family and as a teenager became a nun to please her parents. But she abandoned the religious life and went to Paris in 1714. For a while she was involved in political intrigue, especially for the benefit of her brother, the abbé Tencin, who eventually became a cardinal. She later took lovers and hosted a distinguished literary salon frequented by Montesquieu and other writers and wits. Her novels, written under pseudonyms, won critical and popular acclaim, and were reprinted in the 19th century. Her son Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert (who grew up to be a famous mathematician, physicist, and music theorist) was born out of wedlock and put up for adoption.