Etretat, Normandy. On the balcony of a hotel room, a man is keeping watch. His gaze is fixed on the cliffs from which his mother jumped to her death twenty years earlier. During the course of a single night, the narrator reflects on his life, searching for traces of his mother, his childhood, his lost youth, his brutal father, his runaway brother and his years in Paris. He reflects on his memories, sensations and loss-and, above all, the love that has saved his own soul from despair.