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The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller Book Review

Reasons For Reading This Book:

If you have followed my book reviews over the years you will know that my best friend and I recommend books to one another or simply share what we are reading with one another. A while back she sent me a list of the books she has recently read or planned to read. The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller was on this list. I could not get my hands on a copy until recently when I was shopping at Half Priced Books. When I told my best friend that I finally picked up this book she told me she liked it but not as much as Where the Crawdads Sing which is the other book I picked up from her list at the same time. Prior to starting the book I only knew what the back of the book said. I had no expectation going into it.

Content of This Book:

Every summer since she was a child Elle Bishop has spent the summer in the Back Woods in her family's generation old Cape Cod cabin. After the passionate encounter between Elle and her oldest friend, Jonas, today is not like other summer days. In the darkness of the night Elle and Jonas snuck away from their spouses to finally act on years of feelings. Following this encounter Elle is faced with the choice of staying with her longtime spouse Peter and they life they have built for themselves or leaving everything and making a life with Jonas just as she grew up imaging would happen before they experienced a life changing event. Follow Elle over the twenty-four hours of this encounter and the fifty years leading up to it, as family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one tragic childhood incident that lead Elle to be in this life-changing situation. 

What I Liked About This Book:

As someone who grew up in a private lake community I resonated and appreciated my connection to this part of the book. I also liked how this book was a filler book for me. It satisfied me for the couple of days before the next book for my book club, The Readheads. At the time I was looking for a quick and easy read. This book satisfied that need. Page wise it is a longer book but reads fast and does not take much thought. The book is sectioned into parts; Book One: Elle, Book Two: Jonas, Book Three: Peter, Book Four: This Summer, and Book Five: Today. These sections make sense as you read because it begins with Elle's childhood, then meeting Jonas and their adventures together, then her beginning life with Peter, the current summer and then the specific day in summer that corresponds with the time stamps that are included in all sections of the book. I am a reader who does not mind the literary device of switching between time periods. If you are I don't think you will mind it in this book because it flows from one time period to the next. I also liked the time periods were in little bitable sections. This was helpful for me because at the time I was picking up the book for little reading sessions compared to longer sessions. 

What I Disliked About This Book:

As mentioned in the liked section the book is comprised of short little sections. When it came to the author jumping between the past and the present I struggled to find why she would choose what flashback to include to add character development or context to present action. I would say most of them made sense but other times they seemed like random stories that could have been added at any point in the book. I would have liked for their to be more obvious connection. This will be apparent to the reader from the beginning, but Elle is a very negative narrator. When she chooses what to describe to the reader a majority of it is negative. This is especially true for her descriptions or observations for her mother and people she does not like. I can understand why this was done but it became exhausting by the end of the novel. The whole novel is built on Elle's choice of whether to stay in her marriage or leave her marriage following her actions that one faithful night. With this being the main conflict of the story, I some issues with the way it was wrapped up at the end. The last thing that really bothered me about this book was the author had the habit of having the narrator repeat lots of thoughts or tell similar stories. Once again this was a writing choice that exhausted me as a reader. For example, we did not need to know every detail for every time Peter smoked. 

Would I Recommend This Book:

This book is the perfect travel or beach read. If you are looking for the perfect book for a car trip, airplane ride, or on the beach read, then go with this one. This novel is not very thought provoking and is quick to read, that is why I think it is the perfect travel and beach read. 

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