Archive for August, 2021

The Paper Palace

Saturday, August 28th, 2021

By Miranda Cowley Heller

The Short Take:

This debut novel reads well and unfolds nicely. There was too much child molestation for me (I have a low threshold), but the insights into the feelings of one victim were worth the read. Sections alternate between a couple of days in “current” time at a rustic family retreat in Cape Cod–not the posh part– and the life story of our narrator and her antecedents. It’s a wild trip.


Despite the previously mentioned bits that bothered me, I really enjoyed this book. The writing sang, with gorgeous descriptions. The pacing pulled you through, making it hard to put the book down. Her characters were complex yet she didn’t lay it all on the line. The narrator’s mother is an excellent example; she seems fully revealed yet parts remain hidden, just like a real person. Of course, the author doesn’t veer too far from her own reality: her husband is English and her family spent summers in Cape Cod. This adds to the immersive realism of the plot.

At first it’s hard to understand the narrator’s behavior, which could destroy her marriage and family. But the story of her life makes everything clear and you understand the powerful opposing emotions she faces.

It’s a strong book.

A Little Plot:

Elle sneaks out of a family dinner to have sex with Jonas, her childhood soulmate. The subsequent guilt she feels for betraying her husband and family fights with her burning desire for this life not lived. The novel explains why.

Surprisingly for someone who worked at HBO for some time, the author has no readily available website. However there are many interviews on line that reveal more about her.


    Want to be notified when there is a new post? Sign up to the RSS feeds below
  • Entries


August 2021