The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller – Book review

If you’re looking for a family-drama themed summer read to get obsessed with – The Paper Palace is the book for you! When I picked it up, I knew it came forearmed with glowing reviews and a few pages in, it wasn’t hard to see why. This is a love triangle with Elle at the centre – it’s juicy, heart-breaking and so wonderfully written.

Opening sentence: Things come from nowhere.

All About Elle

Set (mainly) in Cape Cod on the west-coast of America, The Paper Palace does a wonderful job of evoking its scenery. You are transported to the hot, sticky coastline and feel the intense level of the character’s wants and needs dripping from the pages.

Elle is spending this summer in her family’s seaside home with her mother, husband Peter and their three children. The house is nicknamed ‘The Paper Palace’ by her family due to its somewhat ramshackle appearance and it is a place that conjures up a heady mix of memories – both good and bad – for Elle.

It is where she met her childhood friend Jonas. He is in Cape Cod this particular summer too and Elle finds herself letting feelings she thought she had long buried rise to the surface…

An excellent tone

For me, a big part of The Paper Palace‘s appeal is its biting and dark tone that blends with what is essentially quite a pleasant read. There are some distressing (and possibly triggering) moments in the plot too, involving both Elle and her mother that add to the page-turning, unexpected quality.

‘Oh, please,” Mum dismissed me. “You turned out just fine. If your father and I stayed married, who knows what you might have been. You might have been some happy, namby-pamby twit. You might have become a hotel mamager. Divorce is good for children.”

Overall, I was drawn in from page one and that ending! Whether you agree with it or not, it sparked conversation and that’s always the sign of a great read, wouldn’t you agree?

If you loved the sweltering, oppressive scenery and vivid characters that were conjured up in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, then The Paper Palace will hit all the right notes for you too.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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