The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (2016)

The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix SweeneyDysfunction, narcissism, and a delightful combination of ego and self-doubt are the main dishes in this literary feast; prepare to enjoy more than a bit of schadenfreude as we watch the four Plumb siblings deal with the fallout as they make one bad decision after another. Not since Arrested Development have I enjoyed getting to know such a dysfunctional family. Melody is the youngest, living in an upscale suburban home she can’t afford and using an app to keep tabs on her twin daughters. Bea is struggling to rekindle her writer’s spark, surviving on a job as a glorified publishing assistant. Jack’s antiques business is barely solvent and he’s been secretly drawing on equity in his spouse’s cottage to keep it afloat. Leo is the eldest and financially the most successful, but is coping with a crumbling marriage and a mid-life crisis by indulging in drink, drugs, and in a spectacularly bad decision, flirting with a teenage waitress at his cousin’s wedding. He lures her into his car and the two end up in an accident that severely diminishes the value of the siblings’ shared inheritance just months before its disbursement. Instead of getting a half million each, they will get just $50,000. The novel opens with a meeting between the four, just days after Leo’s release from rehab. He promises to find a way to pay them back, and despite a lifetime of being disappointed by Leo, they believe him. They have to – each of them has been desperately counting on The Nest, as they call the inheritance, despite wise counsel from others. Now sober and in a decent relationship, Leo seems to be ready to make good on his promise. In a stellar debut, Sweeney delivers a powerful and entertaining cautionary novel that is well plotted and paced, with authentic characters and dialogue, and a satisfying ending in which the right people got what they deserved. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, devouring it in a single rainy weekend. It’s gotten a lot of accolades and they are well earned. A good choice for fans of The Little Paris Bookshop.
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