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THE COLLECTED REGRETS OF CLOVER: : A heartwarming read perfect for cooler weather

The Collected Regrets of Clover follows Clover Brooks, a death doula, as she lives in her late grandfather’s apartment in the bustling city of New York—the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. She’s been dealt a brutal set of cards: her parents passed away when she was just six and her grandfather, who had taken on the role of her parents, passed away when she was older. Death, as is expected, has permeated every aspect of her life.

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When I was reading the blurb for The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer, I had no real idea what it would be about. It was blissfully vague, mentioning the main character’s lack of gusto for life and her search for a happy ending. This wasn’t much to go off—but it intrigued me nonetheless, and it felt like an appropriate book to read now that we were getting into the winter months.

The Collected Regrets of Clover follows Clover Brooks, a death doula, as she lives in her late grandfather’s apartment in the bustling city of New York—the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. She’s been dealt a brutal set of cards: her parents passed away when she was just six and her grandfather, who had taken on the role of her parents, passed away when she was older. Death, as is expected, has permeated every aspect of her life.

The book follows a pretty standard three-act structure. The first third of it is an intimate look into how Clover functions as a person. We see her brain tick, what she’s like as a person and how she reads as a character. Clover’s past is shown to us in vignettes, conveniently placed when present-day Clover is experiencing something which reminds her of one of the wise things her clients or her grandfather taught her when she was a child. It does a thorough and lovely job of fleshing her out, teasing us with bits and pieces of her life all the way through to her in the current day. Although it does stretch out for a little too long—to the point where I was wondering when the plot would start—it grounds the reader in the reality of the novel in a way that these kinds of books don’t often do. 

Early on, we also meet her only friend, Leo, her octogenarian neighbour who loves gossip and who she regularly plays mahjong with. As the book progresses, she opens herself up more, allowing other people to enter her life and stay in it. She tries new things and makes new friends her age, remaining vulnerable and self-aware the whole time. She’s an easy person to support. I found myself getting attached to her in a way I didn’t think I would. I wanted her to succeed, and I wanted her to be happy. 

Alongside her own character development, there is also a decades-long love story involving Clover’s own attempts to find her love story like the ones in The Bodyguard and Notting Hill. With a few realistic obstacles in the way, which I felt made the end result so much more satisfying, we watch as she navigates her way through the ups and downs of finding love in the modern day. Brammer wields love like a spell, subtly casting it on every relationship the reader pays attention to. Whether platonic or romantic, love is very much in the air at all times.

I will say the romance in this book made me swoon. I was giggling, kicking my feet and towards the end, I had to take breaks to pace around because it was too much for my little heart to handle. It’s a much more subtle romance, taking the backseat at times so that Clover can develop as a person. This informs the way she approaches romance in her life, instead of it being the other way around. It’s a lovely change of pace and is a stunningly healthy way to approach romance—especially first romances.

The novel touches on a lot of different ideas. Not all of them are as wrapped up as I would have liked them to be, but that can be part of its charm. Maybe not all of its questions are supposed to be answered, leaving you to self-reflect on your own life and relationships. 

Ultimately, the importance of humanity and living your life as authentically as you can shines throughout the book, worming its way into your heart and spreading through your veins the way a warm drink on a cold day does. Brammer’s prose can weave different characters’ stories and metaphors together in a way which reads almost lyrically and leaves the reader with a heartfelt impression of how one should live their life. 

If you’re looking for a book that is uplifting, emotional and is sure to leave you with a satisfied smile, this is definitely the book for you. It could definitely be difficult to get through if you’re in a reading slump, and you may not be able to absorb it fully if you’re struggling to gather the motivation to read it because it can deal with some heavy ideas. But, if you want to read something cosy, with hard-hitting messages about grief, love and humanity, The Collected Regrets of Clover could be just the book for you.

 
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It’s 2012 and you have just opened Tumblr. A photo pops up of MGMT in skinny jeans, teashade sunglasses and mismatching blazers that are reminiscent of carpets and ‘60s curtains. Alexa Chung and Alex Turner have just broken up. His love letter has been leaked and Tumblr is raving about it—”my mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it.” Poetry at its peak: romance is alive.

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