Tag Archive: Andrea Dunlop

Review: SHE REGRETS NOTHING by Andrea Dunlop

She Regrets Nothing

by Andrea Dunlop

Published by Washington Square Press
400 pages
Genre: women’s fiction
5 / 5

My Review:

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.

Blurb:

Named a “Must-Read” by Town & Country * Elite Daily InStyle

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.

About the Author:

Andrea Dunlop is an author and social media consultant based out of Seattle, WA with over a decade of experience in book publishing.

She began her career as an in-house publicist for Doubleday (Random House) where she worked with bestselling authors such as Tina Brown, Jonathan Lethem, Linda Fairstein, and many others.

After moving back to Seattle in 2009, she took over as publicity manager for Kim Ricketts Book Events promoting a wide range of cookbook and literary events with authors such as Laurie David, Rene Redzepi, and Steven Johnson. Next, she spent five years with editorial and book production firm Girl Friday Productions as their executive director of social media and marketing, working with both traditionally and self-published clients and spearheading the company’s marketing efforts.

In February 2016, Andrea released her debut novel, Losing the Light (Atria), and is currently working on a second novel for the publisher, due out in 2017. In addition to her writing and social media work, Andrea is an accomplished speaker and has presented at book and publishing conferences nationwide including The San Francisco Writers Conference, The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Conference, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, and many others.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

LOSING THE LIGHT

losing the lightLosing the Light

by Andrea Dunlop

Published by Simon and Schuster
336 pages
Genre: women’s fiction
5 / 5

My Review:

The titular light of this novel turns out to be many things, each seeped in a combustible mixture of mystery, jealousy, insecurity, desire, and confusion.

Abandoned by her father and raised by her mother, Brooke’s search for a connection and belonging first flings her into the arms of a married professor. Their affair is not quite the stuff of dreams, but it gives each of them something they want and need. When her lover confesses to his wife, she, in turn, tells his superiors at the university. The lover is dispatched to a different school, and the dean decides Brooke would best be served by spending a year studying in France. She wants to be a writer, so what better experience than soaking up French customs. This, you could say, is the first light lost in the novel. Brooke, unsure of herself, unconfident in herself. She looks for belonging in this married man, a man whose relationship with his wife lacks something, perhaps the same thing Brooke’s parents’ marriage lacked, and she finds herself filling that void.

Sophie, a classmate from school, is also participating in the program. Brooke confesses that she should be jealous of Sophie, the blonde, all-American volleyball player who makes men stop in their tracks and stare at her with longing. Brooke does not quite elicit such responses, at least not that she’s aware of doing.

The two girls become fast friends, and they also quickly fall into a friendship with Veronique, a beautiful young French woman who has a gorgeous older cousin named Alex. Brooke feels an immediate attraction for Alex, and it appears he might be interested in her, as well. But as Veronique explains to Brooke, the French way of courtship differs from its American counterpart’s, something Brooke must accept.

Andrea Dunlop shows you the fissures in Brooke and Sophie’s relationship, as well as in Sophie herself. You will see, long before Brooke does, that Sophie’s perfection is all artifice. Clues are dropped, but Brooke ignores them (something I found frustrating, to say the least). Brooke basks in the glows emitted by Sophie and Alex, two lights to whom she is irresistibly drawn. Since she begins her story nearly a decade later, when she bumps into Alex at an art show, you know going into this that she lost Alex after her time in France. But what of Sophie? Dunlop tells you one tidbit in Brooke’s opening, but you do not know the full story until the end.

Brooke proves consistently unable to avoid temptation, whether in the form of her married professor, her friendship with Sophie, or Alex. She succumbs easily, like a moth to a light. You realize, again, long before she does, that she needs to lose the light in order to find herself. Dunlop keeps you wondering, though: how will Brooke free herself? How will she escape? And who will she be when she does?

Dunlop is an atmospheric writer. She infuses this book with the mood of a dreamy French countryside, making the setting as important a character as the people. She contrasts the barren, dusty landscape of Brooke’s home with the bucolic, lush town of Nantes and, later, the steamy, salty seaside of Cap Ferrat. When we meet Brooke in New York, Dunlop casts the city as a sort of ambivalent lord, one that knows and sees the scope of Brooke’s life and yet casts no judgment.

This is a beautifully written book. Not perfect – Alex veers a bit too closely to a stereotype – but Dunlop knows her characters and her locales. That Brooke considers herself both perceptive and introspective becomes more ironic as Dunlop continues to develop Brooke’s flaws. Brooke may lose some lights, but in Dunlop’s hands, you can see why she must.

Blurb:

When thirty-year-old Brooke Thompson unexpectedly runs into a man from her past, she’s plunged headlong into memories she’s long tried to forget about the year she spent in France following a disastrous affair with a professor.

As a newly arrived exchange student in the picturesque city of Nantes, young Brooke develops a deep and complicated friendship with Sophie, a fellow American and stunning blonde, whose golden girl façade hides a precarious emotional fragility. Sophie and Brooke soon become inseparable and find themselves intoxicated by their new surroundings—and each other.

But their lives are forever changed when they meet a sly, stylish French student, Veronique, and her impossibly sexy older cousin, Alex. The cousins draw Sophie and Brooke into an irresistible world of art, money, decadence, and ultimately, a disastrous love triangle that consumes them both. And of the two of them, only one will make it home.

 

About the Author:

Andrea Dunlop is a Seattle-based writer and the social media and marketing director of Girl Friday Productions. Her first novel, Losing the Light,is coming out in February 2016 from Atria Books.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thanks for Reading small

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