Let’s see: Bruno is in bed, expected to die. He peruses his father’s stamp collection (symbolic?) and his own books of spiders. Several people take care of him: his son-in-law (whose wife died and is a bit of a cad), a younger woman who cleans and cooks and keeps the son-in-law warm at night, a somewhat untrustworthy caregiver, and later two visiting women associated with Bruno’s estranged son.
There are a few other characters to complicate the narrative and one overriding theme: most of the characters seem to fall in love with one or more of the other characters, usually inappropriately.
Most of the novel goes by, tossing human complications this way and that, before you get to anything that might constitute Bruno’s Dream. Up until the last part of the book the reader might suspect that all the love and sex confusion would be revealed as just a dream (Bobby Ewing?). But then: