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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Nest

The Nest

ISBN: 0062414216

Publisher: Ecco/Harper Collins

Publication Date: 3/22/2016

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars

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 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 Review

THE NEST, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut is a riot- Empty nesters (boomers)-holders of "the nest, and a younger generation of four adult-siblings faced with a shocker-“empty nest trust fund.” In a bird's nest, life's metaphor. An example of a family-- people who aren’t doing what they love, aren’t going after their dreams and are living a life of fear. Emotional and complex, filled with dark comedy, wit and drama- a look inside today's contemporary family of adult siblings, living beyond their means. Dysfunctional behavior, money, entitlement, and disaster. The Plumbs are four semi-estranged New York siblings. Each have their own set of life problems—from sex, careers, personal, to financial. We hear from dysfunctional Beatrice, Jack, Melody, and Leo -- their intimate lives are exposed, layer by layer. Melody, Jack and Bea are in debt and counting on "The Nest" to solve their problems. Leo, is the selfish and narcissistic one. Melody has twins with her own set of problems—college for the twins, house poor; Jack, antiques dealer is hiding things from his partner, and Bea, novelist has her own woes with work and love. They all have been looking forward (expected and needed)-The Nest. An inheritance with a nice sum. The time is approaching. However, the bad news—the son Leo gets himself into some trouble (an accident)—big trouble (drug-and-alcohol-sex induced car accident) which ultimately, drastically reduces the sum each will receive from The Nest, due to his misdeeds. Does Leo plan on paying them back? With some scandalous sex, lesbian scenes, booze, rehab, drugs, lovers, money, entitlement, and financial woes---Sweeney, wows everyone with her stunning, brutally honest, well-written, and hilarious debut. You will laugh out loud at the dramas of family, and relationships. From misery, self-absorption, debt, real estate, parenting, relationships, college funds, expectations, trust, and betrayal—A trust fund meant to be the answer to the Plumb’s prayers, the author brings the characters to life for a close look at life, family, and relationships. What is left…who is circling like vultures? Leo's sisters and brother are hoping that Leo can replenish the trust fund—however, selfish Leo has his own secrets with money stashed away; "sharing" is not in his plan. Along this journey, we meet a cast of other characters in connection with the Plumb siblings. From pressure, scandal, self-destruction, mistakes, blame, to realistic expectations. Sweeney weaves each of the sibling’s stories with lots of wit, and tragedy for a book full of heart and soul. As the four come together to save their inheritance, Sweeney shows the power of family and how wealth can affect our choices and relationships. Like baby birds, high in a tree, a bird's nest. Each is a part of a nest; family, friends, careers, choices, and relationships. Each nest has different dynamics but ultimately they will all have a very similar possible outcome. When we are all in the nest together, we rely the mama bird (parents), to provide and keep everyone happy and safe. However, when each bird flies on their own everyone fears--some try to pull you back into the nest. Some will not return, and some want the nest to be there for them, to return; when they have failed to build their own successfully. As we reach the age of settling our parent’s estates, inheritance, emotions run high, and pretty much a given, siblings will disagree—with tensions. Family and money are two subjects which will raise tempers and get the blood pressure rising. Always a bad egg, a screw up, in the family somewhere. Loved reading the inspiration for the novel and how a woman of 50 goes back to school to write. And wow, what a successful debut—an inspiration for other aspiring authors and writers in mid-life! There is much experience within the lines, only a writer of this age could convey. I listened to the audio version and Mia Barron delivers an engaging read and entertaining performance. While listening to the novel, walking Downtown along Clematis, through all the outdoor sidewalk cafes and bars--people enjoying brunch and cocktails---I had to smile thinking of everyone I passed, could be one of these four adult siblings. Movie-Worthy. Cannot wait for more from this breakout author. Believe the hype.

Review Links:

L. A Times: Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney reflects on family, her midlife turn to fiction and the bidding war over her first novel, 'The Nest' Read More

Advance Praise

“The Nest ambles along so beautifully, what a pleasure to read! It’s a wise, funny, compassionate family drama, full of irresistible surprises, witty conversations, and necessary emotional truths.” (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins)

“A masterfully constructed, darkly comic, and immensely captivating tale...not only clever, but emotionally astute. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is a real talent.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)

“In her intoxicating first novel, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney has written an epic family story that unfolds in a deeply personal way. The Nest is a fast-moving train and Sweeney’s writing dares us to keep up. I couldn’t stop reading or caring about the juicy and dysfunctional Plumb family.” (Amy Poehler)

“Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney delivers an acerbic satire of the leisure class while crafting an affecting human story that embroils us utterly in the fates of the Plumbs...This book keeps its blade sharp and its heart open.” (Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves)

“The Nest is a trenchant, darkly funny, and beautiful novel.” (Bret Anthony Johnston)

In her debut, Sweeney spins a fast-moving, often-humorous narrative, and her portrait of each sibling is compassionate even as she reveals their foibles with emotional clarity...assured, energetic, and adroitly engrossing narrative that endears readers to the Plumb family for their essential humanity.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[A] generous, absorbing novel...Sweeney’s endearing characters are quirky New Yorkers all... [a] lively novel. A fetching debut from an author who knows her city, its people, and their heart.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This dysfunctional family novel, arriving in March, has best-seller potential written all over it. Scenes in The Nest, which follows four adult siblings and the inheritance shared between them, play out cinematically... certainly every bit as entertaining as a movie, too, and impossibly witty to boot. (Elle)

Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

About the Author

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and children. She has an MFA from Bennington. Read More






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