In a competent contemporary writing style Miranda Cowley Heller offers up the tale of a day whose echoes reverberate across a lifetime and beyond. Miranda is a Harvard graduate who became a book editor, and subsequently Head of Drama Series at HBO. These credentials are reflected in her first novel that has all the virtues of well managed plot, evocative sense of place and visceral detail of scene. Many reviews pitch it at lovers of 'A Little Life' and 'Where The Crawdads Sing'. It is an easy read, with plausible characters that ultimately causes you to reflect on the emotional complexity of a life's journey.
Before anyone else is awake, on a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the glorious fresh water pond below 'The Paper Palace' - the gently decaying summer camp in the back woods of Cape Cod where her family has spent every summer for generations. As she passes the house, Elle glances through the screen porch at the uncleared table from a dinner party the previous evening; empty wine glasses, candle wax on the table cloth, echoes of laughter of family and friends. Then she dives beneath the surface of the freezing water to the shocking memory of the sudden passionate encounter she had the night before, up against the wall outside the house, as her husband and mother chatted to the dinner guests inside.
So begins a story that unfolds over 24 hours and across 50 years, as decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable incident in her childhood lead Elle to the precipice of a life-changing decision. Over the next 24 hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn't forever changed the course of their lives.