Tag Archives: General Fiction

Review: The Paper Palace

The Paper Palace

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.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Last Thing He Told Me

The Last Thing He Told Me

The Last Thing He Told Me
By Laura Dave
Simon & Schuster, 9781501171345, May 2021, 320pp.

The Short of It:

I love a good page-turner that has a little bit of substance too.

The Rest of It:

I’ve enjoyed many of Reese Witherspoon’s club picks during this pandemic and The Last Thing He Told Me was no exception.

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. ~ Indiebound

The story goes back and forth between the present and the past, leading up to Owen’s disappearance. The message Owen leaves for Hannah is just cryptic enough to really confuse her. Hannah is well aware of Owen’s love for his daughter Bailey but that is what makes it all the more confusing. Why would he ever want to leave her?

After a friend contacts Hannah about what’s going on at Owen’s office and how they are being investigated, Hannah begins to worry that Owen has gotten himself in over his head. Is he a criminal? Was he forced to participate in something illegal? Does she know him at all? Bailey is equally perplexed by it all. She knows her dad and he would not go missing unless he had a very good reason to do so.

When it comes to these hyped book club reads, all you want to know is if it lives up to the hype, right? Well, I believe it does. There isn’t a whole lot of action but I like the way the story unfolded and I liked the dynamic between Hannah and Bailey, given the difficult circumstances.

Source: Won in a giveaway hosted by Hello Sunshine!
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.