Lily Bart enjoys an equitable standing within the New York City elite. Although she desires a comfortable life and has received generous proposals from wealthy suitors, Lily remains single with hope for an honest and loving marriage. However, her life takes an unexpected twist when a nasty bit of gossip instigates her long descent down the social ladder. With her reputation plummeting, Lily escapes the city by joining an acquaintance on a European cruise. But this, too, causes irreparable damage to her reputation, and soon Lily finds herself disowned and friendless.