'A cottage in Cape Cod, faded from glory, is where Elle’s family spends lazy summers every year, swimming in the lake, languishing at the beach and entertaining friends on warm nights. Though happily married, Elle remains drawn to childhood friend, Jonas. When they act on their desires, a tragic event from the past crashes to the surface, forcing her to face her life choices and dark family secrets. Set over 24 hours, this is an addictive, beguiling novel of family complexities and tragedy.' - Recommended by Nicola Kennedy, Dubray Bray.
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.
A beautifully constructed, wonderfully intelligent and beguiling novel, rich with a multitude of pleasures - William Boyd
It's glorious and gorgeous. I was absolutely immersed and gripped and I'm devastated to have finished it - Marian Keyes
It's been ages since I was so absorbed in a contemporary novel. I loved it - Nick Hornby
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 - Claire Fuller, author of Unsettled Ground
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 - Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Wife and The Female Persuasion
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 - Cressida Connolly
Absolutely phenomenal novel - dazzling writing and utterly addictive. Read it - Rosamund Lupton
It felt as if I read The Paper Palace in one go. It was completely immersive, and shocking, and utterly alive. I loved it - Nina Stibbe
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 - Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes
Miranda Cowley Heller has written a magnificent page-turner, a love story that shimmers with desire, intelligence, and humor. Lush and gorgeously written, The Paper Palace is as intoxicating as a summer night by the sea. I didn't want it to end - Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest
Set in the physical and psychic landscape of Cape Cod, The Paper Palace is a fever dream of a novel, luminous with love and shot through with humor and heartbreak. It is a book that explores the indelibility of childhood, what it means to be shaped by place, and all that is unpredictable about the human heart. I couldn't put it down - Adrienne Brodeur, author of Wild Game
Beautifully written, richly compelling, The Paper Palace is as dark and uncompromising as it is tender and lyrical. Here is a love triangle that keeps you turning the pages, a vivid evocation of place, and an exploration of the one of the most unsettling of secrets - Rachel Joyce, author of Miss Benson's Beetle