The Paper Palace

The Paper Palace

The Paper Palace  

The Paper Palace from author Miranda Cowley Heller is my latest novel to be checked off my to be read list. I’ve heard this is an excellent novel, and I felt like the basis was something many could relate to, so it definitely captured my attention. 

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Have you read The Paper Palace yet? Come on in and let me tell you about it! 

About The Paper Palace 

It is a perfect August morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens 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 with each other 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 genuinely beloved 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. 

As Heller colors in the experiences that have led Elle to this day, we arrive at her ultimate decision with all its complexity. Tender yet devastating, The Paper Palace considers the tensions between desire and dignity, the legacies of abuse, and the crimes and misdemeanors of families.

Thoughts on The Paper Palace 

“And I thought: now there is no turning back. No more regrets for what I hadn’t done. Now only regrets for what I have done. I love him, I hate myself; I love myself, I hate him.” 

Miranda Cowley Heller, The Paper Palace

I must admit that I had very high hopes for this novel, and maybe my expectations were too high, especially for an author’s debut novel. It is rare that reading a novel will irritate or infuriate me, and this one managed to do both. 

By page five (yes, 5!) the book was over. Literally, it was over when Miranda Cowley Heller writes, “last night I finally fucked him.” Well, at page five we have a short story, or maybe an essay at best. She now has 395 pages to stretch that ending into an actual novel. 

The whole paragraph where she talked about the sexual encounter where she cheated wasn’t even that great. She took her panties off in preparation, walked outside, he came out and slammed her up against a wall of the house, and it’s done. For someone she’s wanted to sleep with and dreamed about for so many years, I’d think the encounter would be a lot more well-written. 

She then stretches this essay into the most long winded, crude, disgusting pile of crap I’ve ever read. She bounces back and forth between the past and present within the same chapter, making it almost impossible to follow at times. 

When I say she had to stretch this disaster into a full novel, I’m not kidding. There is so much useless information in here that could’ve been left out and it would have made a lot more sense. Why add unnecessary stuff just to pad a word count? That was the feeling I got out of it. 

I read the entire thing, and even had to go back and read the ending again, because I’m still not even sure who she ended up choosing in the end. For how irritating of a journey it was to make it to the end, I really don’t even care anymore. 

Final Thoughts on The Paper Palace 

This book has primarily high rated reviews, so obviously people are enjoying it. But it definitely was not my cup of tea. 

I find the fact I disliked it to be very disappointing. Because the concept of the book is absolutely something that people can relate to and want to read about. A woman having an affair is certainly nothing new, it happens every day. But how many authors have the courage to tackle that idea within a novel? Not many. But concept and execution are two very different things, and that is where the problem was for me. 

This is one where I feel like I want a refund on both my time and money spent to read this novel. 

I recommend you give it a try and form your own opinions, as mine seem to be in the minority category. I hope this is a book that you enjoy far more than I did. 


Have you read The Paper Palace from Miranda Cowley Heller? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

About the Author 

The Paper Palace
The Paper Palace author Miranda Cowley Heller

Miranda Cowley Heller was raised in New York in a family of artists, writers and editors. Her grandfather was the literary critic Malcolm Cowley. After graduating from Harvard, she was the fiction and books editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine, eventually leaving Cosmo to live and write in Italy. 

In 1997 Miranda moved to Los Angeles with her husband, British screenwriter Bruno Heller (brother of novelist Zoe Heller), where she worked for a decade as Senior Vice President and Head of Drama Series at HBO, developing and overseeing such shows as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Deadwood, and Big Love, among others. 

She currently serves on the Board and Governance Committee of the Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC) in Provincetown, MA, and, until its merger with PEN America last year, was Treasurer and on the Board of PEN CENTER-USA. She divides her time between Los Angeles, London and Cape Cod. This is her first novel.

The Paper Palace
The Paper Palace author Miranda Cowley Heller

Purchasing The Paper Palace 

If you are interested in buying the paperback version of The Paper Palace, click here.

Click here for the Kindle version.

Click here for my favorite Kindle I currently own.

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The Paper Palace
The Paper Palace

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