By: Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
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 afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.
Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.
This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.
I kept seeing this book everywhere last year that eventually I caved in when it went on sale on Kobo late last year and picked up a copy to see what the buzz was all about.
Well, I see where the buzz was coming from per se. It has all of the elements that I enjoy in a novel: dysfunctional family, family members with their own flaws and issues that they have to deal with, a trust that they believe will solve all of their problems, actions that have wider ramnifications than the characters realise…Yeah, it’s there. And I was interested to see where the characters would end up, namely the four Plumb siblings and less so on their loved ones and other characters, whether they’d crawl out of the trouble they’ve partly put themselves in, whether they’d achieve their goals, come together in the end. In a way the novel succeeds in presenting that, but in the same vein I felt like something was missing in the novel but I couldn’t quite place it; maybe it was the sprawling cast of characters half of which I didn’t really care for, maybe it lies in how self-involved the main Plumb characters were but there’s not enough to their characterisations for me to truly care for them regardless of their screw-ups and flaws, maybe it’s the way in which the story seems to branch off to their respective stories–you feel the characters being affected by the others but their stories don’t necessarily intersect unless they have to, if that makes any sense. I suppose I expected them to share more scene time a la the Foxmans from Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You (review).
Just to enter a bit of spoiler territory here
Overall The Nest was all right but I feel it could’ve been so much more if there had been more backstory to understand the connections between the four Plumb siblings and less focus on the other characters around them. They have a weird dynamic and by the last scene I could see where the author was trying to bring them at, but the build-up left me wanting.