Book Review: The Paper Palace

A single act in childhood changed the course of everything…

Miranda Cowley Heller ~ The Paper Palace


OThe Paper Palace takes place over 24 hours and over 50 years, as decades of family legacy, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable childhood tragedy, lead Elinor to the precipice of the life-changing decision she is about to make on this singular summer day in Cape Cod…


I really didn’t know how to land with this book. The synopsis was fantastic, but unfortunately it didn’t deliver.

It just wasn’t very interesting. It could have been anyone’s life story: a few vaguely poignant events, but primarily it consisted of choppy memories that didn’t really fit together.

The story centres on Elle finally having sex with Jonas, the man she’s known since they were both kids. People have affairs all the time; I’m not condoning it, but Elle’s guilt seemed rather out of place for something that only happened once… especially considering her mother’s behaviour throughout her childhood!

The rest is the book describes Elle’s childhood, how she and Jonas met and what happened one fateful summer. But I didn’t feel engaged with the story or the characters.

Parts of it were well-written, but others were overly detailed, with far too many adjectives than was necessary. The author was perhaps trying to be poetic when they were in Elle’s happy childhood place, but the rest of the prose was listless and uninspiring.

The characters seemed to have a lot of trials and tribulations, but none of them gripped me. The characters didn’t seem to care about each other and the relationships were all very strange. Even the ‘perfect’ husband was dull and actually quite rude to Elle and her family.

The plot is predictable; the chapters too long. I almost gave up halfway through, because nothing had happened. I was also slightly confused by the ending, but I assume the author is leaving it open to interpretation.

If you like flowery language and poetic licence, you might enjoy the writing style. But sadly, there wasn’t enough substance to hold my interest.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I was given an advance copy of this book by NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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