The Vacillations of Poppy Carey opens with two key events: the departure of Poppy's thoroughly detestable lover, Edmund, into the arms of a richer woman; and the death of her father who, much to the irritation of the nursing staff, dies in the midst of raucous laughter. Left bereft by these losses Poppy follows her father's dying wish and organises a 'fun' funeral, complete with black plumed horses and a suspicious number of glamorous women who seem to know a very different side to her father. Also present at the funeral are three men who are determined to become her suitors: Willy, a pig farmer; Victor, a novelist moonlighting as the caterer; and Fergus, the undertaker. However, the treacherous Edmund shows up as well and, discovering that Poppy is now heiress to a substantial fortune, abandons his new love interest and whisks Poppy off to Africa, where she embarks on a series of chaotic adventures. Will she escape Edmund's clutches? And, if so, who of her three suitors will she escape with?