This simple romantic tragedy begins in 1957. Guy Foucher, a 20-year-old French auto mechanic, has fallen in love with 17-year-old Geneviève Emery, an employee in her widowed mother’s chic but financially embattled umbrella shop. On the evening before Guy is to leave for a two-year tour of combat in Algeria, he and Geneviève make love. She becomes pregnant and must choose between waiting for Guy’s return or accepting an offer of marriage from a wealthy diamond merchant.
In France of the late 19th century, the wife of a wealthy general, the Countess Louise, sells the earrings her husband gave her on their wedding day to pay off debts; she claims to have lost them. Her husband quickly learns of the deceit, which is the beginning of many tragic misunderstandings, all involving the earrings, the general, the countess, & her new lover, the Italian Baron Donati.