Alexei Ivanovich Velchaninov is a land owner who stays in Saint Petersburg for a trial about a piece of land. He receives a visit from Pavel Pavlovich Trusotsky, an old acquaintance who recently became a widower. Velchaninov had an affair with Trusotsky's wife Natalia, and he realizes that he is the biological father of Liza, Trusotsky's eight year old daughter. Velchaninov, who doesn't want Liza to be raised by an alcoholic, brings Liza to a foster family. The novel ranks among his best works because of its style and structure. Alfred Bem described it as one of the most complete works by Dostoyevsky in regards to its composition and development.