REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK
INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
THE PAPER PALACE IS:
“Filled with secrets, love, lies and a summer beach house. What more could you ask?”—Parade
“A deeply emotional love story…the unraveling of secrets, lies and a very complex love triangle.” —Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club July ’21 Pick)
"Nail-biting." —Town & Country
“A magnificent page-turner.” —Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author
“[An] irresistible placement of a complicated family in a bewitching place.” —The New York Times
A story of summer, secrets, love, and lies: in the course of a singular day on Cape Cod, one woman must make a life-changing decision that has been brewing for decades.
“This house, this place, knows all my secrets.”
It is a perfect July morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at “The Paper Palace”—the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex with each other for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside. Now, over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her genuinely beloved husband, Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives. As Heller colors in the experiences that have led Elle to this day, we arrive at her ultimate decision with all its complexity. Tender yet devastating, The Paper Palace considers the tensions between desire and dignity, the legacies of abuse, and the crimes and misdemeanors of families.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Miranda Cowley Heller’s first novel plunges readers into a dizzying swirl of WASPy family drama. The story is told through the eyes of Eleanor, who has returned with her kids and husband to the clan’s rustic East Coast retreat. As the summer unfolds, Eleanor and her imperious mother are forced to grapple with long-buried ghosts, including the long shadow of past abuse. A sprawling and engrossing read, the narrative jumps from past to present, between New York, London, and the shore, as generations are rocked by divorces and betrayals, replenished by new marriages and fresh romances. Heller’s descriptions—of everything from rocky, wild beaches to the lingering impact of physical cruelty—are elegant and visceral. Like the women who animate its pages, The Paper Palace is a powerhouse.
In Heller's captivating debut, a woman's visit to her family's summer home on Cape Cod forces her to make a momentous decision. Elle Bishop, 50, and her family are back at the "Paper Palace," nicknamed for the cheap pressed paperboard their grandfather used in constructing the house. Elle continues to go there each summer despite painful memories, beginning after her parents split when she was 10 and her mother started bringing along a new boyfriend and his children, including his menacing 11-year-old son, Conrad. As the novel opens, Elle's finally consummated her feelings for Jonas, a friend from the Cape whom she's loved since she was a girl. Over the next 24 hours she must make the decision to stay with her husband, Peter, or finally be with Jonas. Woven throughout are flashbacks from Elle's childhood, including a horrific series of events over the summer of 1983 when Elle was 13, involving Conrad, Elle, and Jonas, as well as other family traumas that have reverberated through generations. When the details are revealed later on, they put the somber mood of the first half in a new light. While the story takes a while to get going, Heller's prose is full of lush atmospheric details. This will keep the reader guessing all the way to the end.
This book needed trigger warnings.
I liked it & finished it but there was definitely pieces I wasn’t expecting from description.
Descriptive book. Loved the back and fourth from childhood to adulthood.
Glad I read but not what I was expecting.
Vibrant and lyrical
This author has an amazing turn with words and the plot kept me hooked the whole time. The characters were intense, passionate, and vibrantly real. The human interest was compelling and moving. I loved it. Note: If you are triggered by any sort of sexual trauma this is not the book for you.
Best book of 2021
Sad I’m finished.