Book for May 2013
The book begins in "the final quarter of the twentieth century," at a year never specified, presumably in the early 1980s. It revolves around a family of deposed European royalty living in a small house in the suburbs outside of Seattle, under the protection of the CIA. They consist of: the father, King Max, a former gambler and poker player whose prosthetic heart valve makes a loud scraping noise when he gets excited; the mother, Queen Tilli, an opera-lover with a strong foreign accent and a fondness for saying "Oh, oh, spaghetti-o"; Gulietta, the non-English-speaking maid and the daughter, Leigh-Cheri, a redheaded vegetarian liberal princess and former cheerleader, having pulled out of classes after being asked to resign from the cheer squad after having a miscarriage while cheering at a football game.
Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins was born in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, United States (US), to George Thomas Robbins and Katherine Belle Robinson. Both of his grandfathers were Southern Baptist preachers. The Robbins family resided in Blowing Rock before moving to Warsaw, Virginia in 1942. Robbins graduated in 1950 from Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia, where he won the Senior Essay Medal. The following year he enrolled at Washington and Lee University to major in journalism, leaving at the end of his sophomore year after being disciplined by his fraternity for bad behavior and failing to earn a letter in basketball.
In 1953, he enlisted in the Air Force after receiving his draft notice, spending a year as a meteorologist in Korea, then two years in the Special Weather Intelligence unit of the Strategic Air Command in Nebraska. He was discharged in 1957, returning to Richmond, Virginia where he was a fixture on the local bohemian scene, reading poetry at the Rhinoceros Coffee House.