Book Review: The Paper Palace

“Does letting go mean losing everything you have, or does it mean gaining everything you never had?”

Has it ever happened to you that sometimes even before you’ve started reading, you already know you’re going to love a certain book? I had the exact emotions for Miranda Cowley Heller’s The Paper Palace. As I finished this, I knew it had made it to my list of favourites from 2021. 

It’s a perfect weather setting in August. Elle Bishop takes off for an early morning swim in the freshwater pond below ‘The Paper Palace’, the soft fading summer camp rooted at her family’s compound in the backwoods of Cape Cod where she has spent every summer brimming from childhood. Now begins a story intricated with the complicated, traumatic past decisions echoing through her present.

Over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to choose between the world she has crafted with her much-in-love husband, her mother’s favourite- Peter. And the life she always imagined would be hers with her childhood sweetheart, Jonas- if only a tragic event on one fateful day hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.

Heller’s narration is going to sneak up on you for a long time. 

I love reading debut works because one can truly feel the vibes and excitement affixed with the first-time authors. The Paper Palace is one such great example, beautifully helmed by Miranda Cowley Heller. Elle’s character is so accurately descriptive, making her a loveable protagonist. She comes across as flawed, and that’s what makes her so real and relatable. Her weirdly wonderful relationship with her mother, Wallace, has been a joy to read. Also, it’d be tough not to get biased between team Peter and Jonas (I’m hands down, team Jonas). Although I do agree the novel could’ve ended better and displayed some pre-informed trigger warnings, just so I could brace my mind in this ongoing lockdown. 

The Paper Palace has been offered great hype, and all for the right reasons. To add more, Miranda Cowley Heller has been the former head of drama at HBO before venturing into the full-fledged author role. If you’re looking for a good emotional drama, then I highly recommend this.


The Paper Palace was published on 2nd July 2021 by Penguin Books Australia. You can purchase the book here.

Title: The Paper Palace

Author: Miranda Cowley Heller

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 400

MRP: 32.99$