A “fine potpourri of guests” is staying at the Durrells’ guesthouse: a skinny-dipping dancer is still there, the floaty bewigged countess remains along with Basil, and two gay American lovers have joined the company. Plus, Spyros has been spending more and more time at the guesthouse working as a handyman – and flirting with Louisa, who is pleased to have him around. It’s all enough to make the mailman gossip and lead to a prevailing impression amongst the conservative people of Corfu that the guesthouse is “decadent.” When Louisa tries to buy groceries in town, vendors refuse to acknowledge her.
Despite all the excitement at the house – which includes Gerry’s in-progress zoo – Gerry is glum, and has even lost interest in his animals. He saw Galini with another boy who had a motorcycle, and she seemed uninterested in Gerry, but he has fallen for her. Louisa’s best efforts fail to cheer Gerry up – she doesn’t even know why he’s upset.
Margo also has a mopey teen to deal with. Her new charge as a governess, Maud, is recalcitrant: she just stares at Margo and makes barbed comments. Margo settles in for a nightmare when Maud’s mother leaves her for a weeklong vacation – even double wages doesn’t make it any more appealing. When the long days degenerate into Maud lying face down on the floor in her pajamas, Margo resorts to drastic measures and douses her with water, then gets her out of the house and takes her to the cinema. Neither has ever been before – and they’re instantly enthralled.
Louisa struggles to find a solution as simple to making the Greeks on Corfu once again accept her family and guests. Theo recommends that she and everyone at the guesthouse take part in an upcoming traditional festival to endear them to the Greeks, and to tone their behavior down in the meantime. He also advises her on Gerry, suggesting that a girl might be causing his funk. This suspicion is confirmed when Louisa asks Gerry about Galini and he bursts into sobs.
Leslie has his own plan to advance his mother’s relationship with Spyros. Having heard that Spyros’s wife Dimitra has a roving eye, he convinces Basil – who has complained about being alone – to call on her. When Basil returns to the guesthouse from his trip to see Dimitra, he is buoyant. Leslie, unfortunately, has changed his mind about the plan and realized it’s a bad idea – but too late. Basil received a “warm to hot welcome;” nonetheless, he’ll consider Leslie’s request to cease and desist.
When Louisa hears from Spyros that there’s talk that the guesthouse should be shut down, she convenes a house meeting and asks everyone to work to be accepted by the locals and display some cultural sensitivity.
So she and the two Americans put on some conservative black clothing and attend church – it’s all in Greek and two-and-a-half hours long. When they return to the guesthouse, they spoil a burgeoning new sense of acceptance by loudly making fun of the service. Unfortunately, the mailman and several Greek neighbors are still there, having a pleasant tea with everyone else, and overhear. Now they just think the foreigners are mocking them.
Gerry also fails in his attempt to impress locals: he puts on Leslie’s pants, slicks his hair, and marches up to Galini and her friend. I’m getting a motorcycle, too, he says, then asks to ride the boy’s. He ends up in a hay bale.
Louisa decides to listen to Theo’s advice, so he, Luga, and Spyros try – rather unsuccessfully – to teach the foreigners some Greek dances, in preparation for the festival. When it comes around, they all dress up in traditional costume, and make a laughable attempt at dancing that does nothing to endear the Greeks. Leslie goes off to get drinks to offer to everyone, hoping that bit of charm might work better, and notices Dimitra sneaking off with Basil. He interrupts them as they kiss in an alley, to no avail: they just sneak off farther from the celebrations.
When Leslie returns to the festivities, everyone is dancing a bit better and the Greeks are starting to enjoy them all – and Leslie’s drinks only help. Soon, a girl pulls Gerry into a dance. Galini sees, marches up, and takes the girl’s place. She likes Gerry after all – as evidenced by them soon kissing, behavior that Louisa quickly stops – they’re trying to appease the conservative Greeks.
The next day, Spyros appears at the Durrell house with a bag of clothes, morosely asking Louisa if he can stay there for several days. Dimitra doesn’t seem to want him around anymore, he says – but mostly, he’s staying over because there’s a lot of work to be done. Louisa is quietly hopeful, even though Spyros won’t yet leave Dimitra over this, as the revelation of an affair would shame him and his children.
Leslie, however, is apprehensive: Spyros tells him he believes Dimitra has a boyfriend, and if he finds out who it is he’ll kill them. Leslie rushes off to Basil, asking him to end the affair. Basil refuses.
Back in England, Margo and Maud secretly attend the cinema every day, until Prue and Geoffrey discover old tickets in the pocket of Margo’s coat and reprimand her: Maud’s mother is important in the town, and Margo can’t lead Maud astray. But films make Maud happy, and encourage her to learn. When a news clip mentions that Italy has invaded Albania, she asks to learn geography. But Margo has other concerns, Albania being close to Corfu. She must return to Corfu and be with her family in these dangerous times.