The Paper Palace – A beautifully constructed
Tightly woven and immediate, The Paper Palace takes us deep into a vivid summer landscape, a family, and a private, longstanding love story, and holds us there from start to finish.
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The Paper Palace is a masterful novel that brilliantly illuminates the tensions between desire and safety; the legacy of tragedy, and the crimes and misdemeanours of families. This novel tells the story of an old woman who, in order to escape a life of domestic peace and her dull existence, is drawn to a magic world. The realm of paper and the World-Maker are ruled by absolute silence; a world which offers her freedom from loneliness where she may not have any memories or past lives, but it does not offer her contentment. In order to finally find fulfillment in an unknown place, she must succumb to betrayal from those she trusted most.
The novel utilizes imagery and metaphors to give readers a vivid, yet strange view of the world. A symbol that is recurring through the novel is water, which represents isolation, freedom from care, and a reflection on the past. The author also places a lot of emphasis on colours, for example, black is used to describe death and mourning.
There are two main narrative threads in this story: the first one is about an old woman who at seventy-three years old runs away from her home for mysterious reasons; the second thread concerns a poor man who crosses over into this other world in order to pursue his wife’s murderer. The two narrative threads eventually come together at the end of the story.
The Paper Palace focuses on the relationships between people, and how they can affect one another’s lives. Arguably the most important relationship in the story is that of an old woman and a young man. The old woman has made a pact with the World-Maker that dictates her life, yet she falls desperately in love with a young man who seems to possess all of her longing. When she divulges all of her secrets to him, he becomes angry and indignant, and later on he rejects her.
The Paper Palace is probably Georgina Klee’s most acclaimed novel because it introduces new kinds of literary techniques such as metaphorical language and symbolism. This novel features both realism and fantastical elements, which allows the author to create her own world. At the same time, this novel is full of subtle hints, symbols, and imagery that allows readers to decipher an underlying message. There are also several allusions to “The Odyssey” and other Greek mythology. This is exemplified in the characters’ names and behaviour. For example in Chère’s name, there is a play on the French word cher (meaning dear) whichis also used to mean “queer” or “unusual”.