TITLE/AUTHOR: The Paper Palace; Miranda Cowley Heller
PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021
GENRE: Fiction / Family Life
FORMAT: eAudio / LENGTH: 12 hours and 37 min.
SOURCE: (print - library) (audio - publisher download)
SETTING(s): Cape Cod, MA
ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: Can the past be totally forgotten?
BRIEF REVIEW: The "Paper Palace" is a summer camp style cottage with paper thin walls located in the back woods of Cape Cod, MA. It's a place for lazy days on the screened-in porch and lots of delightful swims in the fresh water pond. For years Elle Bishop and her family have spent time here each summer ever since she was a child. It's the place Elle first met Jonas when both were still children and the two developed an immediate connection spending as much time as possible together. It was also a place where something happened that changed things between them.
From the beginning of this book we know that Elle is now married to a good man named Peter and the couple has children. Jonas is also married and also spending another summer on Cape Cod. As both families gather indoors one evening over food and drinks, it's clear Elle and Jonas are still attracted to one another. After a quick outdoor interlude between Elle and Jonas occurs, Elle, now 50 finds herself rethinking the life choices she has made. Is the dark past she shares with Jonas and how very much he means to her more powerful than the life she and Peter have built?
This book is no summer beach read. The story is dark but, it is beautifully written. There are definite triggers early on: parental neglect and detailed sexual abuse that go back generations. The setting was lovely and beautifully described, I felt like I could almost smell the musty camp-like smell, salt air and cool and clear pond water. There were a lot of irresponsible adults in this story but yet the story worked in so many ways. The ending may disappoint some readers as it is definitely ambiguous IMO but, I was not disappointed as in the acknowledgements, I thought it was pretty clear how the story ended. Recommended.
Thanks go to Penguin Audio for allowing me access to this book in exchange for my unbiased review. The audio book was read by Nan McNamara who did a great job.