The Paper Palace

by Miranda Cowley Heller

Library Journal In this new addition to the Regency-set "Westcott" series, recently widowed Lydia Tavernor wants Someone To Cherish but would rather have a lover than a husband after the numbing servitude of marriage to Rev. Isaiah Tavernor. In Brenner's Blush, college senior Sadie Bailey discovers that straitlaced Grandma Vivian once ran a book club devoted to scandalous women's fiction. To find respite from griefover her grandfather's death, Marisa Rosso travels to a seaside Cornish village, where she helps locals save their beloved bakery (well known to Colgan's fans) in Sunrise by the Sea (100,000-copy paperback and 30,000-copy hardcover first printing). On the Terminal Ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital, life-hungry 17-year-old Lenni joins forces with 83-year-old rebel Margot in debuter Cronin's The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot (150,000-copy paperback and 25,000-copy hardcover first printing). With The Paper Palace, Heller, HBO head of drama, turns in a first novel about a woman who makes a momentous and long-overdue decision one bright Cape Cod morning. Diagnosed with a terminal illness, newly married Lauren decides to leave her husband 12 letters to guide him through the first year without her in Higgins's Pack Up the Moon. Killed in a hit-and-run in Nantucket, novelist Vivi is given heavenly permission to spend a year watching over her children, her best friend, and her ex-husband in Hilderbrand's Golden Girl (750,000-copy first printing). In Phillips's When Stars Collide, opera diva Olivia Shore and Thaddeus Walker Bowman Owens, backup quarterback for the Chicago Stars, are paired on a nationwide tour promoting a luxury watch brand with tumultuous results (150,000-copy first printing). Debuter Ray's The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton features a once-aspiring artist now running from a tragedy in her life by simply collecting beautiful objects—until the collection-conscious little boy whose family moves in next door makes her rethink things (100,000-copy first printing).

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Kirkus When it comes to making the biggest decision of your life, what matters more: the events of one epic day or the events of a lifetime—though could that day have even happened without the lifetime leading up to it? Elle Bishop has spent every summer of her 50 years at her family’s compound on Cape Cod, in the Back Woods. Ramshackle and in a constant losing battle with the elements, the beach retreat is a reassuring constant in Elle’s life, which has otherwise been marked by her parents’ divorce, a series of increasingly inappropriate parental mates, gruesome stepsiblings, and interactions with lecherous and violent men and boys. Jonas, a childhood friend of Elle’s from the Cape, served as another constant during her challenging upbringing. Elle’s day of reckoning is prompted by a sexual encounter with him—just outside a dinner party with both of their spouses in attendance—after years of a slow-burn relationship. Elle’s marriage to a man she truly loves (and the comfortable family life they've made together) is balanced against the secret-filled history she and Jonas share. Over the course of the ensuing hours, Elle narrates her day of introspection and intersperses it with flashbacks spanning the course of her whole life, with and without Jonas. The moody and atmospheric setting of the shadowy paths and ponds of the Back Woods is described in lush detail that makes a sharp contrast to the colder, sharper elements of Elle’s story. But the long-held secrets that Elle reveals and reckons with over the course of her day of decision cast the biggest shadow over her life and will inform the rest of her days. From the first pages of her debut novel, Heller pulls no punches. Some of them just sneak up on you later on. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In Heller’s captivating debut, a woman’s visit to her family’s summer home on Cape Cod forces her to make a momentous decision. Elle Bishop, 50, and her family are back at the “Paper Palace,” nicknamed for the cheap pressed paperboard their grandfather used in constructing the house. Elle continues to go there each summer despite painful memories, beginning after her parents split when she was 10 and her mother started bringing along a new boyfriend and his children, including his menacing 11-year-old son, Conrad. As the novel opens, Elle’s finally consummated her feelings for Jonas, a friend from the Cape whom she’s loved since she was a girl. Over the next 24 hours she must make the decision to stay with her husband, Peter, or finally be with Jonas. Woven throughout are flashbacks from Elle’s childhood, including a horrific series of events over the summer of 1983 when Elle was 13, involving Conrad, Elle, and Jonas, as well as other family traumas that have reverberated through generations. When the details are revealed later on, they put the somber mood of the first half in a new light. While the story takes a while to get going, Heller’s prose is full of lush atmospheric details. This will keep the reader guessing all the way to the end. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (July)

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