Mildred Pierce is a happily married woman with two kids, living in the suburbs of sunny California. She secretly takes a job as a waitress so that she can pay for piano lessons and expensive clothes for her eldest daughter, Veda. Her growing financial independence permits her to open her own restaurant, and eventually a chain of eateries. She has divorced her intolerant first husband, and married well-connected Monte in order to get Veda into high society. Greedy, self-absorbed Veda is still ungrateful, and demands an even greater sacrifice of her mother. Eventually, Mildred finds herself ensnared in the world of police and suspicion when Monte is mysteriously murdered.