The Paper Palace
When the novel opens, it is 6:30 am, present day. Elle, a fifty-something happily married mother of three, wakes at dawn and heads down to the pond for her morning swim. She is staying at her mother’s summer camp, nicknamed “The Paper Palace”, on a fresh-water kettle pond in the Back Woods of Cape Cod. As Elle plunges naked into the bracing water, she thinks about what she has done the night before: how, in the middle of her mother’s dinner party, she and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had frantic, breath-taking sex for the first time while their spouses chatted away inside. Over the next 24 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 Jonas, if only they hadn’t had to carry the shame of a tragic event from their youth.
The Paper Palace takes place over a single day and fifty years. Twenty-four hours in the life of Elle Bishop, and the mosaic of her life right up until the moment she steps out the back door into the night: a childhood navigating her parents’ divorce; a cast of mostly awful stepparents and stepsiblings; the curious boy, Jonas, who comes into her young life like a birdsong; her wonderful British husband; three beautiful children. But, also: abuse, loss, trauma, and long-held secrets – a single act in her childhood that changed the course of everything, that can never be undone; the pebble she dropped in the pond.
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 is for fans of Ann Patchett and James Salter, in the setting of Adrienne Brodeur’s Wild Game, while concurrently propelled by the tug-of-war between desire and dignity; the legacies of abuse; and the crimes and misdemeanors of Big Little Lies.
Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for The Paper Palace
Translation Rights Sold
A love story that shimmers with desire, intelligence, and humor. Lush and gorgeously written, The Paper Palace is as intoxicating as a summer night by the sea. I didn’t want it to end.
The Paper Palace turned out to be the very page-turner I needed. If you want to learn something about love over a long time—how it can hurt, how it can soar— read this book.
Luminous with love and shot through with humor and heartbreak, [The Paper Palace] explores the indelibility of childhood, what it means to be shaped by place, and all that is unpredictable about the human heart. I couldn’t put it down.
Tightly woven and immediate, The Paper Palace takes us deep into a vivid summer landscape, a family, and a private, longstanding love story, and holds us there from start to finish.
Absolutely phenomenal novel - dazzling writing and utterly addictive. Read it.Rosamund Lupton
Beautifully written, richly compelling, The Paper Palace is as dark and uncompromising as it is tender and lyrical. Here is a love triangle that keeps you turning the pages, a vivid evocation of place, and an exploration of the one of the most unsettling of secrets.