During the French Revolution, a mysterious English nobleman known only as The Scarlet Pimpernel (a humble wayside flower), snatches French aristos from the jaws of the guillotine, while posing as the foppish Sir Percy Blakeney in society. Percy falls for and marries the beautiful actress Marguerite St. Just, but she is involved with Chauvelin and Robespierre, and Percy's marriage to her may endanger the Pimpernel's plans to save the little Dauphin.
In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies. They adore good gossip; and romance and change is in the air, as the unwelcome grasp of the Industrial Revolution rapidly approaches their beloved rural market-town.
Gabrielle Maple works in a dusty desert gas station-café, but yearns for the life of an artist in France, knowing there must be something finer than the provincial dead-end she is trapped in. A hitch-hiking writer, the disillusioned Alan Squier, appears and revitalizes her dreams of a better place, and finds his own sense of worth refreshed by this vital young girl. When Duke Mantee and his gang, wanted killers, show up and take hostages, Gabrielle falls in love with the poetic Alan, and Squier begins to see a way to give Gabby the life she deserves.
Mrs. Dubedat loves and idolizes her artist husband, Louis, but he is dying of tuberculosis. She goes to a doctor and convinces him to save her husband. The doctor can keep only so many patients, and must choose who is worth saving, but is convinced that Louis' artistic talents make him worthy. But when he and several colleague meet Louis, they discover that he is in fact a smooth-talking money-grabbing scoundrel. They also learn that he has another wife, whom he has abandoned. So, the doctor has a problem: should he let Louis die, leaving Mrs. Dubedat with her ...
Child bride Claudia Naughton has made life difficult for her husband David because she can't stand living so far away from her mother. She's also afraid her husband doesn't find her desirable enough. To remedy both situations, she sells their farm to an opera singer so they'll have to move back to the city near her mother, and she tries to make her husband jealous by flirting with a neighbor. Eventually, Claudia has to learn to grow when she discovers that she's about to become a mother and that her own mother is gravely ill.