The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller
27 September 2021
The Paper Palace (published by Viking/Penguin Books Australia, July 2021), is the debut novel of American author Miranda Cowley Heller. Set in Cape Cod, at the ramshackle yet charming old holiday house where Elle has gathered with her family since she was a child, her late summer reverie is abruptly shattered by a spur of the moment fling with, Jonas, her childhood love.
Despite being happily married to Peter for decades, Elle has always carried a torch for Jonas, but over the next twenty-four hours must decide what she wants. Stay with Peter, her beloved husband, or run off with Jonas, whom she could have been with were it not for a tragic incident many years earlier. As Elle ponders her predicament, she finds herself recalling her childhood, and her parent’s far from happy marriage.
The past is riddled with secrets and transgressions, while the present is convoluted by mature adults still lacking in the ability to communicate clearly. The Paper Palace has polarised readers with depictions of rape, sexual assault, and incest, atrocities of which children are the victims, while manifesting the lifelong damage and impact of this abuse.