In 1943, a Wren (Calvert) and a RAF pilot (Granger) meet at an auction of heirlooms of the Rohan family, now all being sold off after the last of the Rohan male line, the brother of the Wren, was killed at Dunkirk. After the RAF pilot reveals that his family are connected to the Rohans in a way, they arrange to meet again.
Meanwhile, the story of the Rohan family is told in a flashback to the Regency period: Clarissa (also played by Calvert), a minor heiress, is put into an arranged marriage with Lord Rohan (Mason), a brutish misanthrope who begins an affair with Clarissa's friend Hesther (Lockwood), who plots to take her place, while Clarissa finds comfort in Rokeby (also played by Granger).
This film features examples of:
- Arranged Marriage: Clarissa marries Lord Rohan, though neither of them does so out of love she does so to please her godmother, and he to gain an heir to the Rohan line.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Hesther is introduced with her family having fallen on hard times, and her resenting having to live off charity.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Sort of. After Clarissa and Rokeby's romance ends tragically, their descendants in the present fall in love, their love affair seeming better-fated than that of their ancestors.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Though Lord Rohan did not love Clarissa, she was still his wife and a Rohan, and so when he discovers that Hesther killed her to marry Rohan, he beats Hesther to death.
- The Film of the Book: Adapted from a 1941 novel of the same name by Eleanor Smith.
- Historical-Domain Character: Given that the film takes place during the Regency era, George IV makes an appearance (referred only as "The Prince Regent") alongside his long-time companion Maria Fitzherbert, with them even breaking up a duel between Lord Rohan and Rokeby.
- Identical Grandson: Clarissa and Rokeby's descendants, the Wren and the RAF pilot, are identical to them.
- Whole Episode Flashback: The bulk of the film is contained within short vignettes that occur in the (then) present of 1943.
- Reincarnation Romance: A variant. The film ends with the descendants of Clarissa and Rokeby falling in love, their love affair this time seeming better-fated than that of their ancestors.