The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut novel is an entertaining tale that follows the unravelling of the Plumb family’s best-laid plans when the siblings’ long-awaited financial parachute, aka ‘the Nest’, is deployed early and unexpectedly by their mother to deal with the eldest sibling’s latest, and most significant, personal miscalculation. Leo Plumb’s spontaneous interest in a young waitress at a wedding is nothing unusual, but when he drives them both off the road someone has to pay to hush the whole thing, including the seriously injured waitress, up. That someone was never going to be the incorrigibly self-preserving Leo.
Despite this apparent certainty, the other Plumb siblings – Melody (perfectionist mother to almost-university-age twin girls), Jack (antique-shop owner without a knack for business in a post-GFC world; secret mortgage on the summer house/retirement dream he owns with his husband), and Beatrice (boutique literary journal staffer; paused novelist; unlikely apartment owner) – live in hope that brilliant, wealthy, occasionally lovely Leo has a nest egg of his own stashed somewhere beyond the grasping reach of his objectionable soon-to-be ex-wife. More than that, they hope Leo will do the right thing and pay back their share of the Nest so that their lives don’t fall apart.
D’Aprix Sweeney is a wry observer of human foibles; her characters, with their various quirks, flaws and wavering delusions, are immediately appealing. While a seven-figure publishing deal isn’t necessarily an indication of merit, The Nest has earned its advance praise. It is a deftly crafted story about what happens when expectations are exceeded and dashed, and when family, friends, and money mix. D’Aprix Sweeney’s writing is clever and downright funny, and The Nest will appeal to fans of Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. and Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings.
Elke Power is the editor of Readings Monthly.