The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny; 2016
The Nest is Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny’s first novel. I’m usually a year or so behind on “new” books because I’m pretty anti buying hardcover books unless I’m eagerly anticipating something (Swing Time, I’m looking at you). However, I’m trying to be more up-to-speed on new novels in 2016, and purchasing The Nest was my attempt at doing so (although I’m reading it about 6 months later).
The Nest is about the dysfunctional Plumb siblings (Leo, Jack, Bea, and Melody), who are due to inherit from a hefty trust fund (which they call ‘the Nest’) that their father set up for them as an intended midlife supplement when the youngest, Melody, turns forty. The once-modest investment soared with the stock market, and each sibling has been counting on their share of the inheritance to get them out of a spot of trouble. Melody has twin daughters heading off to college and an unwieldy mortgage. Jack is having trouble keeping his antique store afloat and is secretly borrowing against the vacation home he owns with his partner. Bea, a once promising short story writer hasn’t published anything in ten years. And, as luck would have it, Leo, the oldest and most reckless sibling, finds himself in serious accident just months before Melody’s birthday, endangering the future of the Nest. The Plumbs must either come together at last to rescue their fortune or reimagine their life plans.
In my opinion, The Nest is a prime example of how a reader can get swindled by marketing ploys, and I hate when that happens to me. When this came out in March it was seemingly everywhere, and “everyone was reading it,” but when I finished it last night I realized that no one I knew had actually read it. That doesn’t mean much, but what I’m getting at here is: over-hyped. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a really well-written book and I think the idea of it was compelling. I didn’t struggle to get through it, and overall I enjoyed it. However, there was something that fell flat to me, and, TBH, I thought it was sort of boring. The arc was something like this: money, sibling rivalry, money, greedy people doing selfish things, money. Probably a realistic take of the world, but not one that really captivated my interest as a reader. The Plumbs are all unlikeable and are driven by self-interest and greed, and their “redemption” in the end, if we want to call it that, didn’t really seem realistic considering their behavior throughout the book. I think I also picked this up at the wrong time. This is yet another book about New York City, its literary scene, and dysfunctional family, and it felt too familiar after reading City on Fire earlier this year, which coincidentally was also about New York City, a literary mag, and dysfunctional families. Other US cities, are you out there?
Rant aside, I really enjoyed Sweeney’s writing and I would read her next book in a heartbeat. This was a classic case of going in with expectations that were too high. A good read for sure, but probably not one that will knock your socks off.