TV & Movies

The Book That Inspired Palm Royale Will Make You Happy Cry

The new Apple TV+ series is adapted from a hilariously heartfelt 2018 novel.

Kristen Wiig in 'Palm Royale.' Photo via Apple TV+
Apple TV+

Just in time for spring, Kristen Wiig’s new Apple TV+ series Palm Royale transports viewers to midcentury Palm Beach — and it brings along a star-studded cast including Laura Dern, Ricky Martin, and Carol Burnett along for the ride.

Palm Royale is loosely based on the book Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel. So if you’re enjoying the series and want to spend a little more time in its colorful, comedic world, why not check out the 2018 novel? Here’s a summary and ending recap of the book that inspired Palm Royale.

Starting Over

Readers first meet Maxine (played by Wiig in Palm Royale) as she navigates her precarious social standing in Palm Springs. She’s looking forward to hosting Thanksgiving at her home, and even schemed to invite queen bee Evelyn. But her perfect holiday is spoiled when she learns that her husband, Douglas, is divorcing her and marrying his pregnant secretary, Jennifer.

This leads to Maxine breaking down in front of her guests, tarnishing her reputation among the society she so desperately wanted to belong to. As part of the divorce, Douglas gives Maxine his condo in Scottsdale as long as she promises to leave Palm Springs.

She reluctantly does that. She quickly befriends the local tavern owner, Robert, and starts looking after her neighbor, Charles, and his baby sister, Dawn, whose dad is in the military and whose mom is largely absent.

Ricky Martin plays Robert in Palm Royale.Apple TV+

Maxine passes the time by dressing up as different characters and testing new personas during church confessionals. She puts her acting skills to the test when Robert calls her from jail one evening, after police raided the gay bar he was at.

Thinking on her feet to prevent Robert from getting into trouble, Maxine tells the authorities she and Robert are about to get married — explaining that he simply stumbled upon the bar by accident. The police even follow Maxine and Robert to the courthouse, where they get married as a cover-up.

Now that they’re wed, Maxine convinces the makeshift family to enter a beauty pageant for housewives, telling Robert that it will be good for business and eliminate people’s suspicions about his sexuality.

Maxine’s Found Family

After advancing through the state pageant, Maxine, Robert, and company head to Palm Springs, where the national competition takes place. As they continue the charade, Maxine is troubled to find Douglas is one of the judges.

Apple TV+

Once Douglas realizes what Maxine is up to, he threatens Robert, telling him he’ll get the police involved if he doesn’t leave right away. So Robert and the kids head home. Meanwhile, Maxine blackmails the pageant leader into making her win. Once she accepts the win on stage, she denounces the pageant and tells her new family she loves them. They watch from a bus station and quickly head back to reunite with Maxine.

A decade later, an epilogue at Dawn’s birthday reveals that the family stayed together. Charles and Dawn were formally adopted after their mom, Sharla, was unable to care for them. They moved to West Hollywood, sharing a duplex where both Maxine and Robert have their own respective relationships while still functioning as a family unit.