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Before anyone else is awake, on a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the glorious freshwater pond below 'The Paper Palace' -- the gently decaying summer camp in the back woods of Cape Cod where her family has spent every summer for generations. As she passes the house, Elle glances through the screen porch at the uncleared table from the dinner the previous evening; empty wine glasses, candle wax on the tablecloth, echoes of laughter of family and friends. Then she dives beneath the surface of the freezing water to the shocking memory of the sudden passionate encounter she had the night before, up against the wall behind the house, as her husband and mother chatted to the guests inside.
So begins a story that unfolds over twenty-four hours and across fifty years, as decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable incident in her childhood lead Elle to the precipice of a life-changing decision. Over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the world she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn't forever changed the course of their lives.
Tender yet devastating, The Paper Palace is a masterful novel that brilliantly illuminates the tensions between desire and safety; the legacy of tragedy, and the crimes and misdemeanours of families.
© Miranda Cowley Heller 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021
A beautifully constructed, wonderfully intelligent and beguiling novel, rich with a multitude of pleasures
It's glorious and gorgeous. I was absolutely immersed and gripped and I'm devastated to have finished it
It's been ages since I was so absorbed in a contemporary novel. I loved it
In rich and sensuous prose, Cowley Heller, cracks open the human heart and exposes her character's choices: the paths not taken and the devastating consequences. I smelled the old cabins and the backwoods, felt the pond water lapping around my ankles, experienced the love and loss of family. A perceptive and powerful story which will stay with me for a long time
Tightly woven and immediate, The Paper Palace takes us deep into a vivid summer landscape, a family, and a private, longstanding love story, and holds us there from start to finish
I can't think of a more brilliant debut than The Paper Palace. Enticing, assured and multi-layered, it introduces a major new voice in American fiction . . . A marvel
Absolutely phenomenal novel - dazzling writing and utterly addictive. Read it
It felt as if I read The Paper Palace in one go. It was completely immersive, and shocking, and utterly alive. I loved it
This accomplished family saga is gripping and poetic, capturing the complexity of the human heart
The Paper Palace turned out to be the very page-turner I needed. If you want to learn something about love over a long time - how it can hurt, how it can soar - read this book
How a different approach helped me feel more energised – and fall in love with books again.