Length: 18 minutes
Reader: Patti Cunningham
The story: In this story, one of Maupassant's most famous, the wife of a lowly clerk dreams of being one of the upper class. She gets her chance to live out this dream, if only temporarily, when her husband procures tickets to a fancy ball. Although she is able to get her husband to pay for a new dress, she has to borrow a diamond necklace from a friend, setting up a tragic misfortune.
Without giving away too much of the plot, I have to say this is one of the greatest examples of irony in a short story. The event she believes will lift her into higher class society has the opposite effect, and her attitudes toward her place in life change. Maupassant presents the characters with enough sympathy to not just be poking fun at them, but instead makes the irony hit home.
Rating: 8 / 10
The reader: Cunningham has an expressive style that brings out the humor and irony of the story. She doesn't try on other voices for the the speaking roles; instead her characters are clearly sketched by the tone and mood of her own voice. There are several other recordings of this story at LibriVox, but out of the three or four I listened to, this one was clearly the best.
(photo by Keven H. Creative Commons by attribution, non-commercial, no derivative works)