The Nest

The Nest

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 afterno...

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Title:The Nest
Author:Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Nest Reviews

  • Will Byrnes

    When Leo Plumb, 46, and very unhappily married, enjoying t

    When Leo Plumb, 46, and very unhappily married, enjoying the benefits of booze, cocaine, and Welbutrin, picks up 19-year-old waitress, Matilda Rodriguez, at a wedding, it’s business as usual. But the joys of the moment come to a crashing halt when the Porsche in which Leo is spiriting her away, the car in which she is putting her hand to good use, is T-boned by an SUV, and Matilda is seriously injured. It’s gonna take mucho dinero to put the lid on

    one.

    I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Good news? OK. The good news, for Leo anyway, is that there is a considerable family inheritance left by his late father, which can be raided for emergencies. Staying out of jail counts, so how much should we make this check out for? The bad news is that the inheritance was intended for

    siblings and Leo’s indiscretion has slashed the total considerably. They are very interested in knowing when Leo is going to re-feather the nest he had just raided like a raccoon in the night.

    - From her Twitter pages

    Leo Tolstoy famously said

    The Plumb family is unhappy in diverse ways. Sweeney measures their depths. The family refers to their inheritance as

    , and their relationship to it, with Leo’s raiding of it, constitutes the core around which this family tale is woven. His charm and skill at manipulation will not be enough to get Leo out of this mess. He may have bought his way out of a jail sentence, but he still needs to come up with some serious cash to make The Nest whole again. He hasn’t exactly been working in the many years since he sold his on-line media business. And there is his bitch of a trophy wife to keep up. She is very fond of spending.

    The Plumbs, despite their father’s financial success, are not wildly wealthy. Melody, nearing 40, is a suburban housewife, struggling to make ends meet in a place where she is very much on the lower economic rungs. She has twin daughters on the verge of college and could really use the money she has been expecting. Beatrice had some success as a writer years ago, but it has been a long time since she produced any writing of quality. She lives in an Upper West Side apartment, a love nest given to her by a late lover, which ain’t nuthin’, especially in NYC, but it’s not like she can sit home and clip coupons either. She has remained in a low-end job long after she should have grown to something more. Finally, Jack has been in a couple with Walker for many years. He runs an antiques shop that specializes in losing money. Walker is the breadwinner of the pair, but Jack would like to be depositing instead of constantly withdrawing. He is in debt up to his eyeballs. The potential absence of his bailout money from The Nest is a blow, so when a shady opportunity presents itself, he has to decide where he is willing to draw the line.

    In this ensemble cast, we follow the siblings, along with a smattering of others, through their travails, and see them come to grips, or not, with the possible loss of a nest egg they had all been counting on for a long time. The issues they face are not merely how to cope with a cash flow shortfall. Sweeney has larger targets in her sights. The characters here are faced with moral choices. How would

    have managed, given the situation? How would any of us? It is certainly the case, for all but the most blessed (and we hate them) that our hopes and dreams for this or that, whether a relationship, a career direction, parenthood, something, go all to hell. Sometimes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Which is nice if you are fond of aphorisms. Sometimes, what doesn’t kill us leaves us frightened, damaged, and scarred. (I mean, they don't call it Post Traumatic Stress

    , do they?) Sometimes it can open a door to a new appreciation, offer a new path, uncover an unseen possibility. Or it closes all available doors, locks the windows and drops a match on a kerosene covered floor. I’m just sayin’. Two paths, at least for each of the sibs. Which will they take? What sorts of people do they want to be? And how will they emerge, battered or better?

    In addition to the choices having to do with facing up to identity crises, and coping with losses real or theoretical, there are some other items here that are very well handled. Sweeney has painted a portrait of some elements of NYC at a particular place and time. These include a bit of a look at the local literary scene, whether one is doing well or struggling, in on the dot.com or killed by it, mean

    or faded sparkle. Authors, wannabes, publishers of paper and on-line magazines, trip through the pages. Some are more about appearance than substance.

    There is a walk through several places in the city, each offering a taste. The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station, a brownstone in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, a bit of Central Park, a Westchester suburb. 9/11 is a part of the story as well, as is, although to a lesser degree, the insanity that is the NY real estate market.

    is, ultimately, about stepping off the edge of safety into the air, and either finding out you can fly or flapping uselessly to a sudden end. And, of course, considering whether or not to simply hitch a ride on a passing pigeon.

    None of it would mean a lick if the characters were merely raucous chicks, lobbying for the next worm. Sweeney has put together more of an aviary, with each main member of her ensemble fully feathered and flight-worthy. Even a teen-age twin must consider separating from the intense co-nesting of sisterhood, and finding her own flight path. While not all the main characters are people you would care to know, they are all fully realized. Hell, even some of the secondary characters are presented in 3D. Their motivations and actions make sense, whether you agree or not with their decisions. There is nuance and depth even to the more morally challenged. I expect that you will find situations and/or conditions in here that resonate with challenges and decisions you have faced in your own life. The economic downturn has hit many of us, even if we need not look to our own reckless personal behavior as a cause. No need to wonder how most of us will behave when faced with some of the problems raised here. We have already adjusted

    expectations. But there is value in seeing how others react.

    Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s last book was slightly different from this one,

    With

    book. Sweeney takes a step into the open air of literary accomplishment. She has spread her wings and caught a rising thermal.

    has not only succeeded in feathering Sweeney’s nest quite nicely, it offers a smart, funny, engaging, and insightful read that will accommodate your peepers quite nicely, and is sure to settle comfortably in many top ten

    lists when those finally begin appearing.

    Review posted – 11/27/15

    Publication date – 3/22/16

    =============================

    Links to the author’s

    and

    pages

    Please do check out Ron Charles's review in the

    Thanks to GR friend

    who, in comment #24, let us know that Sweeney did an interview with Seth Meyers. I am not sure how long it will be available, but you can find it

    , for now.

  • karen

    each dysfunctional family is dysfunctional in its own way...

    the only word to describe this book is "breezy." and that's not to imply it is "unchallenging" or "unsophisticated," just that reading it is a truly pleasurable experience and it both carries you away and sucks you in until you look up and it's four in the morning and you've forgotten to eat dinner and you don't even care.

    it's a multiple POV novel revolving around

    each dysfunctional family is dysfunctional in its own way...

    the only word to describe this book is "breezy." and that's not to imply it is "unchallenging" or "unsophisticated," just that reading it is a truly pleasurable experience and it both carries you away and sucks you in until you look up and it's four in the morning and you've forgotten to eat dinner and you don't even care.

    it's a multiple POV novel revolving around family money, new york, society, and disappointment - an updated edith wharton novel but with more disastrous hand jobs. here we are joining the charmingly flawed plumb family at a moment of crisis - three of the adult siblings; melody, jack, and bea, in varying degrees of estrangement from each other, are coming together to discuss a shared catastrophe - their not-insignificant joint trust fund, which each of them has been complacently anticipating and spending against for years, was nearly in their clutches (for some just in the nick of financial time), when it is suddenly liquidated by their mother to smooth over the spectacularly bad consequences of their eldest brother leo's mess.

    i.e. - the disastrous hand job.

    leo has always enjoyed the benefits of his charm and charisma, coasting through life and work and relationships, making bad choices but still being indulged and coddled by everyone he knew. but with this latest episode, he finds that the shine might have been bruised off his apple for good.

    the story unfolds not only through the perspectives of leo and his increasingly frantic siblings, but also their children, lovers, colleagues, neighbors, and the woman whose hand performed the job.

    it's a family story, it's a new york story, it's a social satire targeting the wealthy, the nearly wealthy, the literary scene, the art world, activists, mommy culture, etc but don't be fooled into thinking this is some funny, frivolous book. it's a

    funny book that's willing to kick a person when they're down, but still has heart and depth and character growth and so many wonderful new york winks. it's just …great. i don't know what else to say about this book; i don't wanna risk reducing its appeal with some dry regurgitation of plot that wouldn't convey the juicy gossipy fun of it, so i'm gonna be lazy with this review and just say "here's a fun breezy book that odds are good you'd enjoy."

    ***********************************************

    oh, man - i stayed up until four in the morning reading this last night. SUCH bookcrack.

    review to come, but know that this is super fun and you should look into it.

  • Diane S ☔

    2.5 Once again my reception of this book will have me swimming upstream from most of my friends on this site whom have already read this book and loved it.. I have given it three stars for the writing alone but the characters and the story I did not care for. Self absorbed, unlikable, selfish is how I found these four siblings. I occasionally felt a slight interest in Bea, but not for long. Too many side characters, which occasioned constant breaks in the narrative did not help matters. The endi

    2.5 Once again my reception of this book will have me swimming upstream from most of my friends on this site whom have already read this book and loved it.. I have given it three stars for the writing alone but the characters and the story I did not care for. Self absorbed, unlikable, selfish is how I found these four siblings. I occasionally felt a slight interest in Bea, but not for long. Too many side characters, which occasioned constant breaks in the narrative did not help matters. The ending was clinched and predictable. Did, however, learn a valuable lesson, never promise your children a large sum of money while you are still alive.

  • BookOfCinz

    If I had to describe this book in one word it would be "shallow". There was no depth to the characters, the plot, the problem the characters faced- just pure surface level, mind-numbing, shallow reading.

    I really hesitated in reading this book because the blurb didn't appeal to me. I wasn't enthused about reading about these four siblings who are just sitting waiting for their inheritance. I decided to give it a go because if the ratings- really wish I didn't.

    I didn't feel anything for these ch

    If I had to describe this book in one word it would be "shallow". There was no depth to the characters, the plot, the problem the characters faced- just pure surface level, mind-numbing, shallow reading.

    I really hesitated in reading this book because the blurb didn't appeal to me. I wasn't enthused about reading about these four siblings who are just sitting waiting for their inheritance. I decided to give it a go because if the ratings- really wish I didn't.

    I didn't feel anything for these characters. I think Sweeney made a huge mistake by having so many different POVs- this took away from the main story and really did nothing for plot progression and character development. A lot of the smaller plots could have been left out to make room for the bigger stories.

    Also, the ending was so cliché and eye-rolling, I barely made it through. If you are looking for a shallow read, this book might help.

  • Navidad Thelamour

    by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney did absolutely nothing for me. (I clearly seem to be of the minority here, but I’m fine with that.) I had high hopes for this one going in—another brilliantly written cover flap did the trick—but my expectations were never met, and by mid-way, I stopped hoping and assuming that they eventually would be. In fact, this one almost didn’t get finished; sheer perseverance pushed me through.

    is about the Plumb siblings, four middle-agers whose lives are thr

    by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney did absolutely nothing for me. (I clearly seem to be of the minority here, but I’m fine with that.) I had high hopes for this one going in—another brilliantly written cover flap did the trick—but my expectations were never met, and by mid-way, I stopped hoping and assuming that they eventually would be. In fact, this one almost didn’t get finished; sheer perseverance pushed me through.

    is about the Plumb siblings, four middle-agers whose lives are thrown into tumult when the eldest, Leo, gets himself into trouble yet again—drugs, a Porsche and a pretty young thing complete the cliché—and their mother nearly depletes “the nest,” their trust fund, which they are all expecting to inherit soon, to get him out of this bind. His siblings, Jack, Bea, and Melody are outraged and anxiety-filled, worrying about their personal financial situations, which have escalated to the point of emergency because they assumed they’d have the nest to bail them out, and now it’s nearly gone. Leo and his siblings struggle to find a way out of the mess he started, and isn’t sure how to remedy, while dealing with the intricacies of their own lives.

    The problem with

    is that this novel could’ve been written by ANYONE. I saw no extraordinary skill, no ambition, no originality, no nothing. Even the endings were all hastily done, formulaic bow ties fit for day-time TV. In short, I was not impressed.

    fell so flat for me that there was nearly an audible "splat" sound ringing in my ears throughout the entire reading process. The writing was mediocre, at times hitting on pithy narrative prose that occurred so infrequently that I have to believe they were flukes, one-offs:

    That was one of the better lines of this novel (in addition to the 9/11 nationalism sarcasm), but unfortunately it also sums up how I felt about this one—strong and robust packaging and selling of this novel only for each chapter to impress me less and less. The characters here were so uninteresting, so unremarkable, that I could hardly keep them straight. They were all either blah, like Melody, or cliché—oh, the

    here!

    I can’t even really fully discuss the glaring rudimentary stereotypes running rampant in this one. There was the drunken, ice queen of a matriarch who dressed in a sexy robe for her daughter’s 12th birthday (one of the more interesting characters, whom we hardly saw, but the cliché smacked me in the face). Then there was Matilda Rodriguez, the naïve Hispanic girl who “called everyone Mami or Papi” despite their age—cliché, yawn—and Simone, the supposedly cool, urban, street smart black girl (honestly, already the shallow cliché in this novel’s setting) who says, “That's tight” a lot. Tight? REALLY? Tight? What decade is this, please? This one was absolutely deserving of the eye-roll, that she would stake her novel on such underdeveloped outlines of overdone stereotypes (and that it would then be praised as great writing really confounded me). Then we shan’t forget the cliché of the gay sibling who wanted lots of random, casual sex in sleazy nightclubs (I literally forgot his name and had to look above to write it here, Jack) who marveled at his luck at dodging AIDS (

    ), and the list actually does go on. There were so many clichés thrown into this one that it was like the literary equivalent of

    This element in and of itself revealed that Sweeney is as out of touch with the real world as her characters are, and that made the read unenjoyable—in fact, a chore. It wasn’t nearly pushed far enough to be satire; this is really the world she wanted to paint, which would have been fine, possibly even funny, as a satire but nothing more than that.

    also had too many superfluous characters and story lines! (I’m looking at you Robohook man, and the guy from the 9/11 towers--and his daughters, and his dog, and his deceased wife,

    !) This one had the makings of a good read and it even had a few glimmers of entertainment value (but they weren't nearly enough to up the number of stars).

    If you want to read about WASPy yacht problems (1st world problems that no one cares about other than the self-absorbed people experiencing them), endless whining about not receiving a large, undeserved amount of money, and story lines that suffered because of the sheer number of them squeezed in here, you’ve come to the right place. I definitely

    recommend this novel to anyone who would even remotely consider themselves a Millennial (whether by age or by temperament). I started to give this one 2 stars, because I finished it, but then realized that that was my own accomplishment, not this novel’s. 1 star. *

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