The Collected Regrets of Clover

Several months ago, I was excited to get an early copy of The Collected Regrets of Clover, the debut novel by Mikki Brammer. Admittedly, I was initially drawn to the cover and the unusual first name of Clover, but as someone who has experienced quite a bit of loss and grief in the past decade, its themes around death also resonated with me. It’s a beautiful and impactful book, and whatever your views on death, this is a novel wholly worth reading.

Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC of this book!


Clover Brooks experienced loss from an early age, and with her personal connection to death, she has made her career as a death doula. But in spending so much time with the dying, Clover is barely living. With only one (elderly) friend and no family or romantic partners, Clover is alone in the world. Now 36, Clover is dipping her toes into living her life to its fullest. Navigating friendship and romance is tough, but if Clover is willing to help an elderly woman renew her long-lost love before death, perhaps Clover can give herself a similar gift in life.


Many of us feel uncomfortable with death or even talking about it, even though it’s something we all face eventually. Not so for Clover Brooks. A death doula, Clover spends most of her time with people who are close to death, helping them emotionally prepare for the end of their life. She tries to learn a lesson from each of them, writing down their last words into her journals, labeled either “Regrets,” “Advice,” or “Confessions.” But how much has Clover really learned from them all? She’s not truly living. Her only friend is 87 years old—more than 50 years her senior—and she’s never had a romantic partner. Maybe it’s time to really put those lessons to use.

The Collected Regrets of Clover starts off a bit slowly, allowing readers to gradually get to know Clover, her inner world, and her limited interactions with others. We also get to see her in action as a death doula and see several deaths, both from her childhood and in her current job. We get a sense for how isolated Clover is and how much she craves human connection and touch, even though she fears and avoids it.

The first several chapters felt melancholy to me, but luckily the book quickly picked up from there. The first sign of change is when Clover attends a death cafe (those are real things!) and meets a man there named Sebastian. His grandmother has terminal cancer, and Clover now has a new client to work with for the next couple of months. As Clover works with the effervescent Claudia, she’s also learning how to let people into her personal life. She’s (reluctantly) befriending an excitable new neighbor and even trying out dating for the first time.

I enjoyed seeing Clover open up to people and learn to let them in. She’s a bit awkward and very unsure of herself. In some ways she’s finally coming of age, just later than most at 36. But she’s endearing, and I related to her in certain ways myself. Like her, I’m an introvert and generally prefer books and pets to people. She also loves (well, loved) to travel, as do I. In her newly developing relationships, not everything unfolds in the way you’d expect, which adds a bit of surprise to the story. But with all the ups and downs, she’s finding good people for her.

Several of the most important characters here are elderly. I appreciate that they’re treated as fully-formed, multi-faceted people with history and enduring feelings and ideas. This books shines a light on how interesting people are, including those who are old, even though younger people may think of them in limited ways. They’re more than just your grandparent; they had a full, long life that would be fascinating to learn about. Claudia and Leo certainly prove as much.

It’s heartwarming to see Clover grow, both through the wisdom passed on by dying and through her new relationships with Sylvie, Sebastian, and Hugo. There’s that big message of letting yourself live to the fullest, not holding yourself back, not having regrets. Maybe it can come across as cheesy, but it’s also so important to hear. It’s easier said than done, and Clover is finally putting in the work to live more fearlessly and be more “cautiously reckless.”

Although death isn’t something I like to think about or dwell on too much, it’s not something I’m uncomfortable with. I suppose it just makes me sad, but books like this can help normalize it and inspire us all to live more fully while we can.

Final Thoughts

The Collected Regrets of Clover is a heartfelt, thoughtful, and inspiring novel. It’s about grief and death, but also about connection and action and life. It highlights loneliness and friendship and a bit of romance, all with an endearing character who’s finally blossoming into herself. This is a wonderful debut novel, one I’ll certainly recommend to others (starting with my sister!), and I look forward to reading more from Mikki Brammer.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Get the Book

You can buy The Collected Regrets of Clover here – it’s available as a hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

Also find an excellent set of discussion questions for the book right here.

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer
GenreContemporary Fiction
SettingNew York City; Maine
Number of Pages320
Format I Readebook (NetGalley)
Original Publication DateMay 9, 2023

Official Summary

Mikki Brammer’s The Collected Regrets of Clover is a big-hearted and life-affirming debut about a death doula who, in caring for others at the end of their life, has forgotten how to live her own, for readers of The Midnight Library.

What’s the point of giving someone a beautiful death if you can’t give yourself a beautiful life?

From the day she watched her kindergarten teacher drop dead during a dramatic telling of Peter Rabbit, Clover Brooks has felt a stronger connection with the dying than she has with the living. After the beloved grandfather who raised her dies alone while she is traveling, Clover becomes a death doula in New York City, dedicating her life to ushering people peacefully through their end-of-life process.

Clover spends so much time with the dying that she has no life of her own, until the final wishes of a feisty old woman send Clover on a trip across the country to uncover a forgotten love story––and perhaps, her own happy ending. As she finds herself struggling to navigate the uncharted roads of romance and friendship, Clover is forced to examine what she really wants, and whether she’ll have the courage to go after it.

Probing, clever, and hopeful, The Collected Regrets of Clover turns the normally taboo subject of death into a reason to celebrate life.

About the Author

Mikki Brammer

Mikki Brammer is an Australian writer based in New York City. She spent her childhood in Tasmania before living in several different parts of Australia, as well as France and Spain.

In addition to fiction, Mikki writes about architecture, art, and design for publications including Architectural Digest, Dwell, ELLE Decor, Luxe Interiors + Design, Metropolis, and Surface.

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