Politicians have decided that since it's worked for the UK for so many years, it would be good for tourism and distract the public so they can get on with the business of governing. Much to his chagrin, Pippin is forced to move in to Versailles and go through with a coronation. Meanwhile, his bohemian daughter Clotilde has taken up with a Tod, young American tourist, heir to a vast chicken-farming fortune.
Pippin hates the role instantly and is desperate to get out of the drafty palace and its hangers-on, and back to his beloved telescope. He finds solace and advice from some colorful side characters -- his uncle Charles, an antique dealer of dubious morals; and Sister Hyacinthe, his wife's old schoolmate, a former chorus girl who took the veil after retirement. He also finds comfort and insight from young Tod, who makes a mean Martini and is terribly insightful for one so young.
This was a pleasant diversion, though there was more politics that I really wanted right now. I enjoyed the characters and there were some amusing bits, but the plot's not terribly strong. I finished it only a week ago and I've already forgotten the ending. I'm not terribly surprised that this one isn't as popular as the other Steinbeck novellas, it seems sort of dated.