The Paper Palace
By Miranda Cowley Heller
Riverhead Books, 9780593329825, July 6, 2021, 400pp.
The Short of It:
Layered and rich. This story grabs you and holds you.
The Rest of It:
Elle returns with her family to The Paper Palace. It’s the summer home of her youth that she has visited every summer of her life, but this particular summer morning, she wakes to the fact that the night before, after a few drinks and memories from her youth take hold, she hooked up with her childhood friend Jonas, while her family, innocently, gathered in another room.
Elle is happily married to Peter. Truly. He is funny, and loving, and dependable and a good father to their children but the bond that she has with Jonas goes way back, way back to earlier summers where they both shared a secret that ultimately affected Elle’s entire life. The story is told in the past and present, alternating between young Elle and married Elle and as the secret comes to light, things get tense. How can you right a wrong so many years later?
I didn’t know anything about this story when I picked it up. It was a Reese Book Club pick and I went in blind. I have had a lot of luck with her picks. The Paper Palace was no exception except, don’t let that pastel cover fool you. It opened in a kind of smutty way, for lack of a better word and then got pretty gritty. You should know, there are triggers in this story for anyone who suffered from sexual abuse in the past.
That said, this story held me captive. I thought I’d read a chapter here and there but I blew through it in a day. It’s complex. The characters are imperfect but their demons are real. It has secrets and moral dilemmas and gives you a lot to consider. I must say, the mother/daughter dynamics are very well-done here.
I can’t say I loved this book because the subject matter is tough but it’s a very good read and superbly written. Highly recommend.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.
13 thoughts on “Review: The Paper Palace”
Waiting for my turn at the library. I have the audio but hoped to do a combo read. I like the sound of it from what you shared. Glad you enjoyed it. Does it take place on Cape Cod? If not, what state?
The backwoods of Cape Cod.
Seems like Reese’s book selections are spot on for you!
I really loved the writing here, too, and the story kept me turning the pages. Subject matter was a little tough, but my main complaint was the ending. A 4-star read for me.
The ending didn’t sit right with me but it was probably realistic.
I very nearly picked this one up to start last night. But I ended up looking at my shelves of older books and realized I still hadn’t read The Heir Affair (the sequel to The Royal We). I’ve started that one, but maybe the Paper Palace needs to be next.
I wasn’t meaning to pick up books with heavy topics back to back but between Count The Ways, The Paper Palace and the book I just finished, Where The Truth Lies, I am ready for something lighter. I just got the new King book sent to my Kindle. King? Light? Probably not. Oh, I have to finish The Perfect Family by Harding first.
I’m starting to wonder if this novel will be for me with the tough subject matter? But I like how the story held you. I’m curious about it and have my name on the wait list.
The Paper Palace is a dark story. It wasn’t overly intense but anyone who is sensitive to rape or sexual abuse should tread carefully with this one.
I’m intrigued by this book and will get to it eventually… probably when I start making trips to the library this fall. I’m still focusing on my own shelves. 🙂
I haven’t heard about this book, but it sounds good. The Reese book choices that I’ve read have been successes so I can see choosing her books blind and hoping for the best!
I’m glad you thought it was good. I’ve seen mixed reviews, probably because of the intense subject matter. I’m looking forward to reading it!
It was good but intense at times with that subject matter. And, I didn’t agree with the main character’s actions most of the time but I also kind of understood them which was probably due to the author’s writing style.