Book Review: The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

“This house, this place, knows all my secrets.”

Published in July 2021, The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller follows fifty-year-old happily married mother of three Elle, who awakens one perfect July morning at “The Paper Palace” – the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside. Now, over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her husband Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.


I received this book as this month’s pick for my Love My Read subscription which was kindly gifted to me by the LMR team. Thank you so much for my two-month free trial.

As soon as I read the synopsis for The Paper Palace, I knew that this was a book that I had to read immediately. I have a soft spot for first loves, missed chances, and that sliding doors concept of “what if”, and I couldn’t wait to be drawn in by this story.

At first, I was a little worried that this wasn’t the emotional drama that I was hoping for, as things start off a little dark and tragic, which is what I was trying to take a break from. Elle and the women in her life have experienced some painful experiences in their lives, which don’t always make for an easy read. But the power of these relationships soon grips you, as you begin to understand why Elle has found herself at such a fork in the road.

The book is quite crude at times and the details of abuse can be quite upsetting, but the emotions that it explores are complex, deep and raw. Because not all love comes from a happy place. Sometimes, it takes guilt and despair to bring people together, and The Paper Palace is all about that life-long journey there.

I found myself relating to Elle quite deeply and wished I could have helped her to make some better decisions and be the support that she needed. But I didn’t mind which way the story was going to end because I cared for all of these characters and my heart ached for them all. The final paragraph, especially, is incredibly striking, and it’s no wonder that I can’t stop thinking about these three people.

With beautiful descriptions of the glistening lake and the sunrise hues, this is the perfect summer read that is sure to tug on your heartstrings. I absolutely love Heller’s writing. Her descriptions are absolutely stunning – not only of the setting which you can feel with every sense, but of even the smallest moments that she paints with such vivid details.

Powerful, passionate, and poignant, The Paper Palace is undoubtedly one of my favourite reads of this year.


The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
Release Date: 8th July 2020
Print Length: 385 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Viking Books

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