Hello, friends! I’m back with another book review. Maybe I should just rebrand as a book review blog, haha. In any case, I’ve been reading a lot and have been enjoying writing these reviews. I need to start doing some decorating around my house or trying some new recipes so I can write about that, but, until then… book reviews it is!
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller is a book that has been all over the internet as of late. I saw it often being described as a perfect beach read. Perhaps I did not look carefully enough through the reviews of this book, because after reading it, I certainly wouldn’t consider it a beach read by any stretch of the imagination. And while most people seem to have thoroughly enjoyed the story, I have to admit that I’m in the minority of those who did not enjoy this book whatsoever.
To make things incredibly simple, this book follows Elle, a married mother of three, who must make the decision to stay with her husband Peter, or start a new life with her childhood best friend, Jonas. Throughout the story I was trying to figure out who I wanted her to end up with, but by the end of the novel, I realized that I truly did not care who she ended up with. I think that represents my issues with this story — I didn’t feel like I truly knew the characters, and as such, I couldn’t [and didn’t] care for them. Any of them!
I found this book completely preoccupied with creating traumatic backgrounds for the characters, instead of writing characters that felt three-dimensional. This book seemed to relish in the trauma and it all felt so senseless to me. I’ve mentioned in previous book reviews that I am easy to scandalize, but this felt different. This felt incredibly grim and I couldn’t really understand why it was added to the story at all. This happens multiple times throughout the book and each time I found it just as off-putting. I also think that part of the issue is that this is advertised as a beach read, so when this subject-matter is presented, multiple times, it is especially jarring.
Perhaps a more frivolous complaint about this story was that nothing truly meaningful happened. The story takes place within the span of twenty-four hours and the majority of the book’s content is horrific flashbacks. It felt like not much happened throughout the book and because the majority of the story was told in flashbacks, I really had no idea who the characters were in the present. Sure, I know every traumatic thing that happened to them as children, but I had very little idea as to who they were as an adult. It made it all the more difficult to care about the characters and the overall plot of the story.
I will end on a positive note, as I did find the writing style of this book to be quite beautiful. I thought that the description of nature painted a very pretty picture, but it did not make up for everything else. It was beautiful, but it felt like there wasn’t really much behind it.
And that’s that, my dear friends. As always, it is just my opinion and if you have a different one, that is totally fine! Everyone has different preferences for the media they consume.
Thank you so much for reading!