Set in Paris, France in 1880. A young middle-class woman dreams of a lifestyle far beyond her reach. One day, her husband comes home with tickets to attend a very affluent party, and she is excited to attend, but upset that she will look dowdy.
Mathilde Loisel is not wealthy, yet she dreams to be. Her husband gives her money to buy a dress, but she is not satisfied until she asks a wealthy friend for a necklace to borrow.
At the ball, Mme. Loisel is a hit, but the necklace goes missing. After days of searching, she and her husband decide to replace it with one that looks identical. The replacement costs more money than they make, and it takes them ten years to pay it off.
After ten years of hard work and struggles, the couple pays off all their debts.
One day Mathilde is walking to the market and sees the friend that she borrowed the necklace from. She decides to tell her what happened.
The friend Mme. Forestier, tells Mathilde that the necklace was “false”, a fake. The reader is left contemplating the irony of the situation.