Oh yay! Another book approximately horrible people doing horrible matters to each other, because they had horrible childhoods with horrible parents, and horrible matters happened to them, which make the horrible matters they do now less horrible, somehow?

Or, this is just Real Life, right. It’s what we get up to all the time. Gritty realness. Cheating, mendacity, sneaking, angst, homicide – just another day, innit. We’ve all been there. Or not – is that the point? Are we living vicariously here? Elle is on vacation at the dilapidated family holiday domestic in the Cape (a desirable location in the US, I gather). They’ve been coming here for years. Only this time, she has sex with her childhood sweetheart, and thus begins an introspective jaunt back through time, as we find out exactly why she’s such a horrible person (clue: horrible parents, horrible matters happen).

A house made of paper would just fall down, correct? Oh is that the idea, gotcha: The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller cover design

Annoyingly, this book is rather a page-turner, though that didn’t stop me grinding my teeth somewhat at the more lurid, sensationalist bits. It’s had rave reviews, obvs. I just… oh, I don’t know. I want to like someone, anyone, in a book. Elle is a horror. Jonas (the childhood sweetheart) a manipulative horror. Peter (her husband) a daft Englishman, who is helpfully rich and posh, but not interesting enough. Wallace (the mother) an older horror, whose horrible parenting is maybe the reason why everyone is horrible.

Yes there are a few minor ‘twists’. Nothing spectacular. I liked the descriptions of location – why so fascinated with the Cape? It sounds horrendous – and good atmospheric build up in that respect. Bit of an ambiguous ending. I wanted something a bit more decisive. Or a immense twist.

In short…

I can see why it’s sold loads of copies. Bound to be made into a film/tv series. Big Little Lies was better, 7/10

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