Book 16 of 2016
The greatly anticipated The Nest by Cynthia D’aprix Sweeney landed in my lap courtesy of a Harper Collins friend, who mentioned it was being marketed as ‘the book of the year.’ I can see why readers are drawn to it; there are several alluring elements that make The Nest an interesting and humorous read.
The Nest takes a jab at a wealthy New York family, the Plumbs, and follows the four Plumb siblings who, when the youngest sibling turns forty, are set to receive an inheritance. This ‘nest’ of money is something they have all been waiting anxiously to get their hands on, and all of them have their reasons independent of one another. There’s only one problem: Mama Plumb decides to release the funds to Leo, the oldest of the bunch, when he gets into a drunken car accident and needs the money to keep people quiet. As readers will quickly realize, the money ridicules the Plumbs by dangling itself just out of reach, and then disappearing before they can enjoy it.
The novel focuses on each sibling, as well as significant others and various characters they are intertwined with. The stories become a delicate, intricate web. While some of the stories are less interesting than others, the way Sweeney chooses to tell the story of the several different generations of characters is commendable.
I was a big fan of most of the characters, others I thought were just ‘meh‘. My favorite character is Stephanie, Leo’s on-again, off-again love interest who definitely has a story to tell. Jack, one of the siblings, and his partner Walker were also some of my favorites to read about. Walker is an attorney, and sees first hand how money warps and ruins relationships, memories and decisions. If only Jack had the sense to take his partners advice, because he is definitely on to something.
<*Spoiler Alert! Skip the following two paragraphs if you haven’t read the book!*>
It’s evident that Sweeney has a talent for writing great descriptions and creating beautiful metaphors. For example, on Page 82 she writes about a start-up magazine featured in The Nest called Paper Fibres: “Keeping Paper Fibres afloat sometimes felt like trying to cross the Atlantic in a leaky skiff.”
However, all of the positives elements of the story being said, I am still trying to figure out how I feel about the ending of The Nest. I thought it was sad, but realistic. I was disappointed in Leo, and I also felt discouraged by some of the other outcomes, specifically Jack and Walker. Leo and his dark cloud of self-loathing will never get to see the happiness he is missing, and that made me upset; his undiagnosed depression, along with his selfishness, made him lose everything valuable in his life… If only he could see how happy all of his siblings turned out in the end, without the money. I was pleased with the progress all of the siblings had made with their relationships with one another; losing ‘the nest’ brought them together in ways they never would have expected.
Overall, I wasn’t as enthralled with The Nest as I thought I would be, but then again, my expectations were through the roof. It was a light, descriptive, and interesting read, and was a good mix of humor, drama and family politics. Whether you end up liking it or loving it, you’ll get through this read quickly and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking about how the movie version will be even better. (Yes, this book would make a terrific film).
What did you think of The Nest?