CrimeThe Paper Palace By Miranda Cowley Heller

The Paper Palace By Miranda Cowley Heller


From early on in this one, I found myself captivated by the story’s setting. In fact, there was something about it that really reminded me of the landscape of Where the Crawdads Sing — anyone agree? In this novel, the Paper Palace is the vacation home where Elle, now in her early fifties, has spent every summer of her life. But this summer is different and the return of a childhood sweetheart changes everything.

Whilst the setting hooked me in, I found the story slow to start with. It shifted between the past and present and I found myself rushing over the parts about Elle’s childhood. That is, until around the middle when BAM — everything changed and when a horrifying family secret was revealed, I literally could not inhale this quickly enough. In fact, I’m not sure I paused for breath, even for a second.

For me, this book is about the complexities and challenges life throws at us, how things can change in instant and how we rebuild and emerge from the traumas of our past. Absolutely worth a read on every level.

~ Sophie

Let me set the scene. It’s Friday, I am six hours out of surgery and can’t focus, feeling particularly discombobulated post general anaesthetic. I think to myself – let’s start The Paper Palace and relax. I did not relax. I did however read it in one sitting, completely distracted from my surroundings and emotions.

The sign of a great writer amongst many things is to be able to unveil a part of the plot early on and keep a reader hooked and this occurred here for me. The pace of this book picks up dramatically as more is revealed and I found myself speed reading as quickly as I could to see how the different narratives resolved, only stopping to consider what choice I would make in Elle’s place.

Containing trigger warnings of sexual child abuse and cyclical trauma, I liked the exploration of marriage, friendship and the consuming guilt people face following their hearts when their decisions will uproot family and children. I understand why it has garnered the hype received and think it would be a great book club pick.

~ Chaya

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