To ease the burden Hortense employs a young woman, Francine, who comes highly recommended and is indeed a hard worker who quickly adopts her new family, she being an orphan.
Hortense has two sons in the war, Constant and Georges. We see Constant early in the film before he goes back to the front. We also see Clovis, the husband of Solange. But it is when Georges returns from the front that the story takes a turn that will ultimately lead to great sadness.
The cinematography is absolutely stunning while the film is almost devoid of a soundtrack. In fact the dialogue is also very sparse and at times the silence is quite strange.
If you are intrigued by the rural life of the times then you will be absorbed by this film. It is also, one feels, an accurate depiction of the lives of rural people. I found a very interesting review that delves into the actual history of the time.