When Robert Peabody, the new vicar, moved into the village of Bumpstaple, the villagers were naturally agog. And when they discovered that, not only was he handsome enough to send the spinsters of the parish all a-flutter, he was also divorced, and a single parent, it was agreed that he could not be allowed to remain single for long. Mavis Entwhistle, whose pastry had caused successive vicars to consider fasting as a desirable alternative lifestyle, had decided that her surprisingly lovely daughter Sally (for Mavis was no more endowed with a beautiful face than with a light hand at the pastryboard) would make the perfect vicar's wife. Sally, having beaten off her mother's attempts to marry her off to the washing machine repair man, the milkman and the baker's assistant, refused to meet this latest candidate for her hand, until a chance encounter in the mobile library led to some surprising and decidedly un-vicarish behaviour.
Robert's son, meanwhile, was trying to cope with adolescent confusion in the form of Claire, whom he met on the school bus. Claire had quite enough to cope with, what with her spots and the dreadful embarrassment of her mother Tessa's advancing pregnancy - and at her age, too! And as though this were not enough, she was having to put up with the child from her hell, her cousin Hugh, who had come to stay while his parents were abroad. When Robert planned to hold a new-style Carol Service and Hugh decided to introduce a little realism into the Christmas story in the shape of Tessa's pet pig, the villagers began to wonder just what was in store for them.