She Regrets Nothing
Named a “Must-Read” by Town & Country * Elite Daily * InStyle
“The love child of Gossip Girl and Crazy Rich Asians, plus the social climbing of a Gatsby party.” —Refinery29
In the tradition of The Emperor’s Children and The House of Mirth, the forgotten granddaughter of one of New York’s wealthiest men is reunited with her family just as she comes of age—and once she’s had a glimpse of their glittering world, she refuses to let it go without a fight.
When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.
Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth.
In the uneven latest from Dunlop (Losing the Light), 23-year-old Midwesterner Laila Lawrence, whose father died years ago, is orphaned when her mother, Betsy, dies in a car crash. At the funeral, the sudden appearance of her wealthy paternal New York cousins, twins Nora and Leo, and their older sister, former model Liberty, kicks off a defining and eventually tragic chain of events. Two years after the funeral, the newly divorced Laila is living with Nora and Leo in their adjoining New York penthouses and working as an intern at Liberty's literary agency. She's restless and determined to claw her way to the top. Shopping sprees (at Nora's expense), nightclubs, a disastrous affair with a much older billionaire Liberty's would-be love and more are only the tip of the iceberg for Laila, whose sociopathic tendencies are obvious. The kind-hearted Liberty is the strongest character and stands out among her wealthy peers; the feckless, insipid Nora and the puckish Leo are little more than caricatures. In spite of a certain salacious appeal, Dunlop's melodramatic novel is a shallow exploration of privilege and bad behavior that doesn't have much to say.
Fantastic story of loathsome people
It takes tremendous skill to populate a book nearly entirely with unlikable -- truly despisable -- characters and still make it a riveting page-turner. Andrea Dunlop has done just that.
You may think you will like Laila, but you won't. Oh, sure she starts off as some sort of Forever 21-wearing Midwestern innocent, but give her ten minutes of realizing that she is a member of an obscenely rich New York family, and she sloughs off her discount duds for a sense of entitlement. Some of my favorite moments were when other characters point out her brazen desire to climb up in the social (and financial) ranks.
You will find Nora and Leo, Laila's twin cousins, entertaining, and you may even develop a fondness for them. While they, too, are entitled, they were born with it and to it. Neither can hold down a job (neither wishes to, which perhaps is the point), which causes them no concerns whatsoever. There were a few moments when I felt for Nora, but then she would say something ridiculously meanspirited, and my empathies would evaporate.
You won't like the twins' parents, either, and although you never actually meet him, you are smart enough not to like their grandfather.
There are, however, two characters you will love and who earn your love. One of them is Liberty, the twins' elder sister and an heiress who thinks like a career girl. She is too good for these people, and she's too good to realize that. Dunlop's pacing impresses because she knows when she needs to turn the story over to Liberty. If you spend too much time in Laila's and Nora's heads, you will find yourself overcome with irrational anger.
The other character you will love is best not revealed in a review. Suffice it to say that Dunlop is a smart, canny writer who knows that Liberty needs an ally, and this story needs to end on a hopeful note.
The ending, by the way, is PERFECTION. I loved that Dunlop never tries to redeem these people. They are who they are, and no amount of wishful thinking will turn them from entitled brats into tolerant, generous humans.
This book is perfect for book clubs. Dunlop gives you a lot to discuss and debate, and you will devour her storytelling. I loved this book so much. If you give it a chance, which you should, please come back and let me know your thoughts.