'She Regrets Nothing' Author Andrea Dunlop Is A Deliciously Entertaining Novel About The Dark Side Of Wealth

Ad failed to load

Imagine this: at your mother's funeral, you are approached by three of the most glamorous humans you have ever laid eyes on. They radiate so much class, wealth, and charm that you hardly believe them when they tell you that they are your family — a family you didn't even know you had. They are there to offer you an opportunity of a lifetime: to leave your sad orphanhood in the Midwest behind, and claim your rightful place in the glamorous world of New York City's high society. What would you do to hold on to your newfound life and wealth? That's the question at the heart of Andrea Dunlop's She Regrets Nothing.

It may be decked out in millennial pink on the outside, but the novel, out now from Atria, holds a lot of darkness between its bright covers. On the surface, this deliciously entertaining novel is a spellbinding story of one young woman's struggle to find, and keep, her place among the ranks of one of New York's richest families — her family. But underneath the glamorous family saga — where heart-to-hearts happen at Bergdorf's and Thanksgiving dinners include champagne and truffled mashed potatoes — is a far more disturbing narrative about gender disparity, sexual violence, and the dark side of wealth.

At the very center of She Regrets Nothing is Laila Lawrence, a young woman who, after becoming an orphan and learning that her grandfather is one of the wealthiest men in New York City, ditches her quaint life (and husband) in the Midwest in favor of a guest room in her cousins' penthouse on the Upper East Side. Creating an intriguing but fairly "unlikable" character who isn't, Andrea Dunlop tells me, a full-on anti-heroine or even a real villain, was one of the most interesting parts of the writing process. "Putting myself in that place with a character that looks at the world so much differently than I do, and so much differently than a lot of typical female heroines, was totally fun," Dunlop says.

Ad failed to load

She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop, $12, Amazon

Laila makes shocking decisions at every turn, all in the name of getting what she believes is owed to her — namely, her family's wealth and the status that comes with it. Despite her questionable moral choices, Dunlop thinks that readers will be able to relate to Laila's ambition and determination, like the author did herself, even if they don't intend to. "I was rooting for her," Dunlop says, "but I was uncomfortable with it."

Ad failed to load

Laila's virtue may not draw readers to her side, but her struggle to convince herself and other that she fits in certainly will. Like most young women her age, Laila is, for the first time, coming face-to-face with a reality that isn't anything like she was told it was supposed to be. "This is really the coming-of-age narrative in the book," Dunlop says. "Slamming up against this idea that the world is not what you thought it was."

"I was rooting for her," Dunlop says, "but I was uncomfortable with it."

So many characters in She Regrets Nothing are left with their expectations unmet, but it is the women in the novel who come face-to-face with the harsh reality that the world is a sorely disappointing place for them, in part, because of the double standards they face at every turn.

Ad failed to load

"That is so much a part of our experience," Dunlop says. "We are told, 'Women, you can do whatever you want and be whoever you want — as long as you are a size two and get married before you are 30.'"

That conflict — the one between the world women want and the one we are given — is at the heart of Dunlop's narrative. Despite the female characters' immense wealth and privilege, they are each still painted into dangerously narrow boxes of existence. To question those parameters, and to try and change them, Dunlop argues, is something not many women in the world of her novel (or in real life) are willing to do yet. She questions whether they would be a part of a movement like #MeToo or Time's Up, two social revolutions that came after she finished writing She Regrets Nothing.

"There are a lot of women — beautiful wealthy white women in particular — who have benefitted from the status quo and from the systems that are in place," Dunlop says. "That is a really fascinating dynamic, and I think it is something that we really need to talk about a lot."

Ad failed to load

Talking about those uncomfortable, and mostly unspoken, dynamics is something Dunlop hopes her novel inspires readers to do. While she wants readers to be entertained by the glitz and the glamour of She Regrets Nothing, she also wants her novel to inspire readers to confront class a privilege, and to have a "deeply uncomfortable conversation" she believes we need to start having.

Talking is certainly something readers of She Regrets Nothing will be dying to do — that is, after they get through all of the book's third-act twists, each one more intriguing, and more confronting, than the next.

Dunlop thinks readers will find a silver lining in the final pages of her fiction, but "In reality," she says "the ending is never so tidy."

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Signs Your Energy Is Closed Off To Love, According To A Psychic

Finding love requires more than just the actions of going on dates or setting up an online dating profile. It also requires opening yourself up to love and giving off the vibe that you're open. You may not even realize it if you're energetically bloc…
By Suzannah Weiss

Bustle's Editors On Ice Dancing + Rihanna

For those of you who had a holiday on President's Day, welcome to the start of the work week! And for everyone who worked yesterday, you're one day closer to the weekend, woo! Today's been a fairly chill day so far — we've got more on the Winter Olym…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

It Took Heather Graham YEARS To Make A Movie About Women Ditching Toxic Men. The Reason? Men.

They say you should write what you know. But in Hollywood, that age-old advice apparently needs an addendum: Write what you know — as long as men are into it. And for actor and newly minted director/screenwriter Heather Graham — a woman who swam thro…
By Kelsea Stahler

Target Just Launched A Gorgeous New Home Brand — And Most Pieces Are Under $30

Design lovers rejoice! Everyone's favorite store for pretty much everything is about to make all your daring decorating dreams come true. Today, Target's corporate blog issued a press release that provides a peek into Target's new homeware line, Opal…
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

17 Brilliant Ways To Support Parkland Survivors Wherever You Are

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors are demanding Congress take action. A large group of students who survived the shooting are opposing politicians' "thoughts and prayers," arguing that inst…
By Sarah Beauchamp

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper