Margin Notes: The Nest

The Nest 

by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems. 

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book and this it's perfect for people who loved the Vacationers.

The plot circles around the Plumb family. Their father set aside a nest for them all to inherit when the youngest of the four children turns 40. He thought it would just be a nice cushion, not anything extravagant. After he passed away, the nest is well-managed and becomes quite more than a little cushion--and they're all eager to tap into their share of the nest and have been spending it before it's become available to them. This is a bad idea because... we come into the story a year or so from when the crew gets their money. Leo, the handsome, oldest, golden child has an accident and injures someone. Their mother opens the trust to pay the injured party off and we follow the repercussions.

The plot of the book moves along quickly--we get to hear from different people both within and outside of the family. There are a lot of subplots and tangents, but they're not too crazy to decipher. Though the subplots felt less developed and unnecessary or unfinished (view spoiler)

This family is well-drawn, though they begin to edge on trope territory. They're all flawed (some more so than others), they're individuals. Melody is neurotic and incredibly, incredibly insecure. It's almost painful at times. In the end, after her conversations with Jack, I felt for her, but I still couldn't stand her. Beatrice was my favorite of the bunch, she's a writer who once held promise and is now struggling. The (married) love of her life has died and she's plugging away at a nowhere job. Jack, 'Leo-lite', is also self-centered with no ethical bright line. Leo is self-centered and self-serving and sees himself as a hero. Somehow his siblings put him on a pedestal and most of the character building and character arc in the story comes from when (view spoiler). Stephanie, though not a Plumb, is a big part of the story and I liked her. Her self-awareness was great. My favorite characters were two on the sidelines--Walt and Walker. Walt is Melody's husband and Walker is Jack's husband. Both had a sense of decency that contrasted nicely with the Plumb's lack of it.

If you're interested in a family drama that plays out in NYC with wealthy players, this book will be perfect for you. It will be a hit with book clubs because there are lots of angles to discuss--does promised wealth corrupt you? How much of an influence are parents on their kids? what is success? What were the right decisions in certain situations and what were the ethicial ones? And on, and on. For me, out of a book club, it was a good read but it lacked a sense of depth that would have elevated it, in my opinion.</["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]>

View all my reviews


Popular Posts