Take me to the Cape...
September 25th 2021
It’s the book everyone is talking about this summer – it’s sexy, riveting and set in the most beautiful location in the backwoods of Cape Cod. When we saw Reese Witherspoon pick up The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller and start shouting about it, we couldn’t help but say, ‘called it!’.
A woman has just had sex with her best friend while their families are feet away inside the house. What brought her to this moment – and what on earth will she do now?
An utterly captivating novel, The Paper Palace is the backstory to the difficult decisions we have to make – a nuanced exploration of right and wrong and what lies beyond them.
We caught up with the author this week for our BookClub and had the most fascinating chat. Check it out now HERE.
Excerpt from the book…
Today. August 1, the Back Woods. 6:30 A.M.
Things come from nowhere. The mind is empty and then, inside the frame, a pear. Perfect, green, the stem atilt, a single leaf. It sits in a white ironstone bowl, nestled among the limes, in the center of a weathered picnic table, on an old screen porch, at the edge of a pond, deep in the woods, beside the sea. Next to the bowl is a brass candlestick covered in drips of cold wax and the ingrained dust of a long winter left on an open shelf. Half- eaten plates of pasta, an unfolded linen napkin, dregs of claret in a wine bottle, a breadboard, handmade, rough- hewn, the bread torn not sliced. A mildewed book of poetry lies open on the table. “To a Skylark,” soaring into the blue— painful, thrilling— replays in my mind as I stare at the still life of last night’s dinner. “The world should listen then, as I am listening now.” He read it so beautifully. “For Anna.” And we all sat there, spellbound, remembering her. I could look at him and nothing else for eternity and be happy. I could listen to him, my eyes closed, feel his breath and his words wash over me, time and time and time again. It is all I want.
Beyond the edge of the table, the light dims as it passes through the screens before brightening over the dappled trees, the pure blue of the pond, the deep- black shadows of the tupelos at the water’s edge where the reach of the sun falters this early in the day. I ponder a quarter- inch of thick, stale espresso in a dirty cup and consider drinking it. The air is raw. I shiver under the faded lavender bathrobe— my mother’s— that I put on every summer when we return to the camp. It smells of her, and of dormancy tinged with mouse droppings. This is my favorite hour in the Back Woods. Early morning on the pond before anyone else is awake. The sunlight clear, flinty, the water bracing, the whippoorwills finally quiet.
Outside the porch door, on the small wooden deck, sand has built up between the slats—it needs to be swept. A broom leans against the screen, indenting it, but I ignore it and head down the little path that leads to our beach. Behind me, the door hinges shriek in resistance.
I drop my bathrobe to the ground and stand naked at the water’s edge. On the far side of the pond, beyond the break of pine and shrub oak, the ocean is furious, roaring. It must be carrying a storm in its belly from somewhere out at sea. But here, at the edge of the pond, the air is honey- still. I wait, watch, listen . . . the chirping, buzzing of tiny insects, a wind that stirs the trees too gently. Then I wade in up to my knees and dive headlong into the freezing water. I swim out into the deep, past the water lilies, pushed forward by exhilaration, freedom, and an adrenaline rush of nameless panic. I have a shadow- fear of snapping turtles coming up from the depths to bite my heavy breasts. Or perhaps they will be drawn by the smell of sex as I open and close my legs. I’m suddenly overwhelmed by the need to get back to the safety of the shallows, where I can see the sandy bottom. I wish I were braver. But I also love the fear, the catch of breath in my throat, my thrumming heartbeat as I step out of the water.
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Vicki & The LoveMyRead Team x