The two men Louisa loves most on the island, besides her own family, are in trouble. The police are going to arrest Sven and his partner Viggo on charges of moral indecency. Leslie hears of the plan beforehand, allowing Viggo time to leave the country, but the superintendent soon sends Leslie himself to arrest Sven. Leslie tries to defend him, but the superintendent threatens to fire him. Sven is brought to the jail.
Spyros is also suffering a crisis, having become a despondent recluse since his wife left him with their children. Louisa and Margo visit and find both him and his house a mess. Even his car is broken, and he can’t afford to fix it. Louisa offers him money, but the Durrells are currently living off a loan and waiting for Louisa’s inheritance from Aunt Hermione to come in, so Spyros refuses.
Louisa goes to Theo for advice on Spyros. He suggests asking Spyros’s uncle Leonidas to check in on him. Leonidas is happy to help, and eagerly offers to move in with Spyros while he recovers from his funk.
Larry is indignant at the police’s treatment of Sven. He’s joined in his righteous fury by his friend and fellow writer Henry Miller, who is enjoying a stay at the Durrell home. (He takes special advantage of the beaches and sun, swimming and writing and reading in the nude while a scandalized but titillated Margo watches from afar.) Larry and Henry march to the jail and protest Sven’s imprisonment. They find Louisa already visiting Sven with a basket of baked goods. Larry promises to fight on behalf of justice, but Sven doesn’t want to be a cause célèbre – he just wants to go back to tending his goats.
Too bad: Larry senses a chance for grandstanding. He asks Margo to borrow legal books from the library of her old employer, the countess. But the countess has become a feisty shut-in who keeps a gun near her in case of burglars, and she refuses to lend the books. So Larry breaks in at night and swipes the volumes he wants, but not before alerting the countess to his presence.
She calls the police the next day to report the theft. Leslie quickly offers to cover the case, suspecting that Larry is the culprit. Unfortunately, the countess also knows it was Larry, but Leslie tries to cover it up and protect his brother nonetheless.
As Larry and Henry research legal rights, the Durrells receive another visitor, the opposite of the libertine Henry: Louisa’s second cousin Basil, the stodgy executor of her Aunt Hermione’s estate. He evades questions about why he has come to Corfu. Louisa eventually confronts him and learns that there may be less money in the estate than everyone had hoped; Basil wants to be safe in another country when Louisa’s other cousin back in England finds out this unfortunate news.
Turns out Basil made an unlucky investment with Hermione’s money and most of her estate will be taken up by paying that debt – so Louisa won’t be receiving the hoped-for money to pay off her own debts.
She may not be able to solve that problem, but Louisa can at least focus her attention on other crises. After visiting Spyros again and finding him drunk with his uncle Leonidas and his house still a mess, she begins sending helpers to clean and cheer him up. Luga, Gerry, Margo, Henry, Basil: they eventually diminish his funk, by driving him out of the house and away from their company into the beautiful fresh air of Corfu.
Louisa also applies herself to saving Sven. She marches to the jail and flirts with the superintendent while also implying that her relationship with Sven proves he isn’t gay. Sven’s release is secured – but not before Larry, having failed in his legal arguments despite the help of Henry, Theo, and Basil, chains himself to a file cabinet in the jail. Sven is freed just as Larry shackles himself in protest – a typically embarrassing situation, from which Larry is quickly saved.
One tricky run-in with the law is over, but the countess’s charge of theft still remains. The superintendent seems to have accepted Leslie’s equivocations that the burglar can’t be caught, until Leslie’s partner accidentally lets slip that Larry is the culprit. Leslie takes a stand and refuses to incriminate his brother, leading to his firing – but he saves Larry from jail.
Having fixed several problems by means of their own gumption, the Durrells receive help in the question of their debt through pure luck. Specific items of Aunt Hermione’s estate are exempt from her debt, so they will go to Louisa after all – she can sell them and thus pay off her own loans.
And a last vexing complaint has ended as well. Louisa, tired of cooking a separate meal for the vegetarian Gerry, had forced him to prepare his own food - and he ended up being a surprisingly talented cook. But he has finally grown weary of cooking, and is once again eating meat. Another victory for Louisa.