The Regrets is a unique love story.
When the novel begins, we meet Thomas, a cool, young Brooklynite who is newly, but incompletely, dead. Due to an erring angel, Thomas is placed in limbo and instructed to await his final fate, albeit with the grave warning that he is not to incur regrets by engaging in intimate involvements with the living.
Following the rules proves to be difficult for Thomas as his standing apart as a ghostly person enhances his perception of the living world. He notices everything, but is drawn to a particular woman with taut posture and red lips. Rachel, a reference librarian with a guarded heart, notices him too. Their attraction is metaphysical, a vibration of energies, and too strong to resist. Soon they must navigate the consequences of incurring regrets, and what it means to embark upon a secret relationship strung across the chasm between life and death, body and spirit, past and present
Throughout the book, Amy Bonnaffons creates characters who are relatable in their weirdness, and intriguingly haunted by experiences they struggle to explain. Even Mark, an affable former lover of Rachel’s finds himself inexplicably back in Rachel’s orbit after years of feeling haunted by her ghosting him. Yet, each character finds a way to resolve their haunted feelings and reclaim their integrity---with a little help from their friends and a metaphysical acupuncturist.
Before they find their way forward, however, they expend a lot of energy seeking connection, oblivion, pleasure and punishment through the bodies of others. All of them demonstrate an emotional repression that is as unsustainable as their sexual freedom. As I read their story, I felt like a ghost watching their doomed lovemaking and hoping they would find a way to ground themselves in a tenable reality.
Ultimately, Bonnaffons does provide her characters with a way through their existential crises, and as a reader, I found myself called to evaluate what makes an existence worthwhile. The beautifully ordinary answer: Love in all its forms.
--reviewed by Kristin B - Lakeview Library