The narrator's husband returns from the office and, as usual, the narrator failed to buy a baguette for their dinner. "The nearest bakery is on the other side of the boulevard: it takes forever to cross." So, as usual, off goes the husband to buy the missing bread. Down the five flights of stairs, across that boulevard... While she waits, our narrator calls her mother, warning her that, as usual, she will need to hang-up the phone when he returns. But instead, her mother eventually hangs up, and the narrator realizes that her husband is delayed, is seriously delayed. And eventually she acknowledges that he is missing.
Nothing else really happens in the book, yet it is filled with the ruminations of our narrator as she attempts to live with the consequences of this event. In the endless hours of the ensuing days her mind ventures far and wide in an attempt to accept, understand, internalize the enormity of this event, this new void in her life. "But the space he left empty, a yawning hole in the universe, and that was the scandal that no law known to me could describe, make up for, or punish."
The only characters in the book besides the narrator are her best-friend, mother and mother-in-law. The last of these is unable to fathom the disappearance of her beloved only son, and this hurt and betrayal is focused on our narrator in a manner neither fully understand. This event has thrown them together, and apart. So the only other people to intersect the life of our narrator are her mother and best friend. Both grow tired of the narrator's remoteness and essentially order her to get on with her life. She hears and understands their commands, but is untouched by them. She is simply waiting, outside the events of everyday life, living instead within the confines of her brain. "Waiting - for what? A sugar cube, my walk, someone to pat me with an outstretched hand?" They are vibrant with everyday life, she is adrift in an interior world which does not intersect with the efficiency of these two women. "I was a graft of monkey and dog, no longer able to arch my back enough to hoist myself above the chimeras."
This interior world is lyrically described, but then she anchors the story with a few facts, they simply don't add up. The husband is a real estate broker for new developments who despite simply leaving one day without a single trace has an office that continues to function without him, and continues to bring in more than sufficient amounts of money...all this without employees. That level of the novel, though relatively inconsequential, simply isn't believable. But in general the author does an excellent job of exploring a mind set adrift by events.