The Reese Witherspoon Book Club July 2021 Pick
'The Paper Palace takes us deep into a vivid summer landscape, a family, and a private, longstanding love story, and holds us there from start to finish' Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Wife and The Female Persuasion
'Earthy, intoxicating, shimmering' Sunday Times
Before anyone else is awake, on a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the glorious freshwater pond below 'The Paper Palace' -- the gently decaying summer camp in the back woods of Cape Cod where her family has spent every summer for generations. As she passes the house, Elle glances through the screen porch at the uncleared table from the dinner the previous evening; empty wine glasses, candle wax on the tablecloth, echoes of laughter of family and friends. Then she dives beneath the surface of the freezing water to the shocking memory of the sudden passionate encounter she had the night before, up against the wall behind the house, as her husband and mother chatted to the guests inside.
So begins a story that unfolds over twenty-four hours and across fifty years, as decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable incident in her childhood lead Elle to the precipice of a life-changing decision. Over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the world she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn't forever changed the course of their lives.
Tender yet devastating, The Paper Palace is a masterful novel that brilliantly illuminates the tensions between desire and safety; the legacy of tragedy, and the crimes and misdemeanours of families.
'I was totally immersed in the fast-paced narrative that seamlessly wove together past and present. I think you will love this one!' Reese Witherspoon
'Glorious and gorgeous. I was absolutely immersed and gripped and I'm devastated to have finished it' Marian Keyes
'A beautifully constructed, wonderfully intelligent and beguiling novel, rich with a multitude of pleasures' William Boyd
'Beautifully written, richly compelling' Rachel Joyce
'Enticing, assured and multi-layered, it introduces a major new voice in American fiction . . . A marvel' Cressida Connolly
'Absolutely phenomenal novel - dazzling writing and utterly addictive. Read it' Rosamund Lupton
'A tense, evocative tale' Observer
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
As head of drama series at HBO, Heller oversaw some of our all-time favourite TV shows, including The Sopranos and The Wire. Here she deploys those formidable storytelling skills in an enthralling and evocative debut novel, unfolding across both 24 hours and 50 years. In the present, we follow heroine Elle—a happily married, middle-aged mother of three—across a single day as she deals with the fallout from having sex with Jonas, her lifelong friend, for the first time. This is intelligently intercut with vivid flashbacks, illustrating how the pair got to this crisis point—and the deadly secret from their youth which bonds them forever. Will Elle gamble on soulmate Jonas or stay with her charming British husband? Heller’s immersive sensual journey takes in family trauma and midlife frustration, while transporting the reader back to the endless hazy summers of childhood holidays. Cleverly constructed and slyly devastating with several rug-pulling revelations, this is a love triangle with surprising angles.