This reading group guide for She Regrets Nothing includes an discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.Topics & Questions for Discussion
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1. What were your first impressions of the Lawrences (Liberty, Leo, Nora, Laila, Ben, and Petra)? Did your sense of any of their personalities change over the course of the book? How so?
2. On page 62, Laila describes her tendency to transform herself into what she thinks people around her want as “mirroring.” Have you ever found yourself mirroring others? Using examples from the book or your own life, discuss whether mirroring seems like an effective tactic for building relationships, or reaching any other goal. Where is the line between trying to fit in and being manipulative?
3. While wealth disparity creates an obvious distinction in power and influence, She Regrets Nothing
also portrays the way beauty and youth can be strong sources of privilege. What are some of the instances in the novel when the clout of wealth, beauty, and youth are at odds with each other? Do you think one holds more sway over people than the others?
4. There are several examples of the different timelines men and women seem to be given for settling down, from Reece’s surprise that her brother Cameron would be interested in having a family when he is “only thirty-six” (p. 102) to Petra’s insistence that Nora use a matchmaker to find her a husband since her “options won’t get better” (p. 45) now that she is twenty-five. When Nora insists that things have changed—that men don’t only want twenty-five year olds, and that women can find good husbands at older ages—Petra suggests everyone is only pretending things aren’t the way they were in her day. Do you agree with Petra, or do you think she is overstating the matter? What are some other examples from the book of the consequences of the divergent expectations for men and women?
6. On her way to Thanksgiving dinner with her cousins, Laila reassures herself by mentally iterating some of the glamorous facts about her current life, noting that “as she formed the words in her head, they felt true and not true.” What do you think she means by this?
7. As a young, pretty Midwesterner, Laila is seen as naive and unassuming by the more urbane New Yorkers around her. Although at times she takes advantage of the impression people have of her, Laila does express frustration at not understanding the rules of the new social world she is in. What are some of the moments in the book where the reader sees her ignorance? Ultimately, to what extent do you think Laila feigned the role of a clueless small-town girl, and to what extent was that really who she was?
8. The novel seems to distinguish between characters who wear their privilege and status well, and those who do not. What are the hallmarks of each type of person? What are both the external circumstances and innate qualities that seem to make some individuals—Liberty, Reece, Blake—more redeemable than others?
9. Laila is in many ways a fiercely ambitious and emotionally independent woman, and yet repeatedly finds herself financially dependent on the men in her life. Is there power in being a “kept” woman? Which do you think grants greater freedom: working a job that isn’t your passion and supporting yourself, or never having to work again but being tethered to a man you aren’t in love with?
10. In chapter 18, Leo and Nora imagine leading idyllic “normal” lives outside of Manhattan, conjuring cinematic images of an upper middle–class existence. What would your perfect life be like? Do you think there is an ideal level of wealth that provides comfort and opportunity, but avoids the types of problems Leo, Nora, and Liberty believe having an abundance of money creates? If so, what would that look like, and is it different from the fantasy life you initially imagined?
11. Do you think Laila deserves a portion of the Lawrence fortune? Did Liberty deserve the money? Why, or why not?
12. In the epilogue, Laila envisions herself as a “beautiful, young, unencumbered” girl with “only the brightest of futures . . . unstoppable and untethered . . . She is the master of her fate, and she regrets nothing.” Do you think Laila really has no regrets, or does she just wish to be the girl she is describing?Enhance Your Book Club
1. Put the “club” in book club—consider having everyone in your reading group come made up in their “Manhattan socialite” best. Put together an outfit fit for an exclusive nightclub in New York City, crack a bottle of champagne to share, or bring some New York-style cheesecake bites to add a flare of luxury to your discussion.
2. At the end of She Regrets Nothing
, Laila is on a flight to the Maldives to escape New York and make a fresh start. Imagine what will happen in her new life. Will she live with Maxime or find another way to survive in the Maldives without any money? Will she settle down or keep moving, leaving another life behind? Will she ever find a way to maintain the luxurious lifestyle she craves? Will her actions in New York catch up to her, and will she ever regret her choices? Consider writing a denouement that addresses some of these or your own questions about Laila’s future, and share with your reading group.
3. Consider reading the New York Times
opinion piece, “What the Rich Won’t Tell You” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/opinion/sunday/what-the-rich-wont-tell-you.html). What are some parallels between how the interviewees discuss and/or justify their wealth, and how the characters in She Regrets Nothing
view their own abundance? What differences do you see? The New York Times
article takes a strong position on the rhetoric and behavior of the upper class—do you agree with the author’s point of view? How might some of the Lawrences respond to reading this?
4. Visit Andrea Dunlop’s website at www.AndreaDunlop.net to learn more about her and her books, and consider reading her debut Losing the Light
or her enovella Broken Bay
for another darkly seductive read.