Glendale, California, 1931: Mildred Pierce, a young mother with a talent for baking, is left a "grass widow" after throwing her husband, Bert, out of the house. Forced to hunt for work to support herself and her two young daughters, 11-year-old Veda and seven-year-old Ray, Mildred visits an employment agency, only to encounter job opportunities she feels are beneath her. Amidst her job search, she receives dating advice from her friend and neighbor, Lucy Gessler, and begins an unexpected affair with an ex-business partner of her husband's, Wally Burgan. When Mildred receives a call from the agency regarding an opening as a housekeeper to a wealthy socialite, she reluctantly agrees to meet with her. After cutting the acerbic interview short, Mildred seeks refuge at a local diner, Cristofor's Café, where fate, and a waitress named Ida, will play a role in shaping her future.