I hope May is going well for all of you! It has for me! I’ve been reading a lot this month, and I managed to finish some books recently. As of now, I’m still reading Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, and I started a new one that I would like to show you today!
Content warning: this review contains brief discussions on sexual acts.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller is about a woman who has to choose between the life she’s had and the one she wants to live. It’s a nice July morning, and Elle, a 50-year-old mother of three, awakens at “The Paper Palace” – the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: she had sex with her dear childhood friend Jonas for the first time behind their spouses’ backs the night before. Now, over the next 24 hours, Elle has to decide between the life she has made with her beloved husband Peter, and the life she always imagined that she would have with Jonas if it weren’t for a tragic event that changed their lives forever.
I’m nearly halfway through the book, and I like it. Elle gives me Laura-Dern vibes. I’m not fully sure why, but maybe it’s in the snarky, but insecure manner that she presents herself. It’s a nice character study so far. It contains plenty of flashbacks to show all of the events that influenced the decision that Elle is supposed to make in the present day. It also pads out the pages because if one takes away said flashbacks, not much happens in the novel in general. This is not a bad thing as plenty of character studies (even the good ones) tend to do this. It all depends on how strong the main characters are, and so far, Elle and her family are compelling.
In addition, the book has given me a roller coaster of emotions. For starters, Elle’s mom revealed early in the books that she used to give blow jobs to her first step-father when she was young. When Elle’s grandmother walked in on them in the act, she slaps her daughter instead of her then husband. This rightfully made me angry. Then, about a chapter later, when Elle is describing her mother’s personality, she calls her an ass and like Margaret Dumont – an actress best known for her work with the Marx Brothers. Those who’ve read my reviews in the past will know how much I love that comedy team. Cowley Heller had me at Margaret Dumont.
Nan McNamara narrates the audiobook. She is an actress who has appeared on screen in television shows like Switched at Birth and Criminal Minds. She has also recorded several audiobooks for fiction titles like A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante as well as nonfiction ones like Antitrust by Amy Klobuchar and This is Your Brain on Birth Control by Sarah Hill. McNamara does a very good job so far. Part of what I said about how Elle gives off Laura-Dern vibes is because of how the narrator sounds when she portraying the character, which is extremely suitable. I also enjoyed how McNamara voices Elle’s mom as a very refined and smug. In addition, she does the kid voices well except for Elle’s oldest son Jack, for he’s supposed to be a teenager, and he still sounds like he’s 10.
We have now come to the end of the thirty-third chapter of “What Am I Reading?”
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