Fiction. Literature. HTML: A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives. 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 futures 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, Cynthia D'Aprix 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..
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To me this book was a lot of fluff and I don't think I would recommend it.
The Nest focuses on the adult siblings of the Plumb family. Leo Plumb is a writer and founder of a media conglomerate. He and his siblings live in or near New York, and their lives center on the money they stand to inherit on their sister's 40th birthday.
First, you have to be able to be charmed by Leo, the internet millionaire who spectacularly self-destructs at the beginning of the book at a family wedding. Sweeney didn't get me to be charmed for him, so that was strike one for me.
Second, I felt like there were a few good set-pieces in the book (every family gathering had a bit of ridiculousness), but I never felt the action ramping up. It could have been a true farce of a book with siblings acting truly manic, but it never quite got there. Taking it to an even more absurd height would have worked for me. Instead, there's emotional heft at the very end after not much of that. It's hard to read a section asking me to sympathize with a few characters when I've just finished a book where the characters were all so wrapped up in themselves. They hardly empathized with each other, which got me into the mode of not empathizing with them either.
I was expecting something funnier, based on the cover copy and what I'd read about the book elsewhere.
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.
I have to admit, when I first heard about the hype this book was creating, it seemed an odd plot to draw such high reviews. I put off reading it because it didn't sound like something I would enjoy. However, I hate to be left out when it comes to the hottest books of the season so I eventually relented to see what the fuss was about. Generally, I found the characters pretty irritating and self-centered. There was a little tongue and cheek humor which was enjoyable, as even their mother couldn't stand to be in her children's company. The story was fine and some characters were fleshed out more than others. I would say it would be a good beach read since it wasn't particularly deep or memorable. I enjoyed the setting of Manhattan and some of the non-related characters more than the Plums, who tended to be shallow and materialistic. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't had such high expectations?
The blurb on the book flap really doesn't do this book justice. It is not about a group of mean, narcissistic, materialistic New Yorkers waiting to get their hands on a pile of money to fix all of the previous poor decisions.
The Nest would be a fantastic beach read.
A clever idea interestingly written. Most of the characters are fairly despicable--the favorite brat (Leo), the sad writer whose promising career flamed out (Bea), the gay man who can't keep a business afloat and lets his well-paid lawyer husband bail him out repeatedly (Jack), and the needy cryer (Melody). And of course mom (Francie), who uses her children's nest egg for her favorite so that she doesn't have to dip into her own funds. Sweeney did a good job writing such different characters, as well as writing very different spouses/significant others, children, co-workers, neighbors.
I found the end a little too pat and unlikely, though Bea is definitely the most realistic of the siblings. And, as Walt says, "It will all work out."
Do we need another novel about whiny, white, privileged New Yorkers? We do not, but this turns out to be a pretty good story that avoids the usual insufferable, idiosyncrasies, and becomes an engaging character study as the Plums scrabble around trying to put their lives back together.
"She opened and closed both hands as if she were grabbing fistfuls of air. "Up!" she said again, as her family rushed toward her all at once, each of them hoping to get to her first."
Each member of the Plumb family is preoccupied with their own greed, secrets, lies and devious behavior. Their interactions with each other are on the surface as they are all fairly egocentric. As relationships are broken and their
Because each of the siblings had been expecting a large sum of money, they had overextended themselves in one way or another and were deep in debt. Leo’s accident and their mother’s need to keep it quiet turned their lives upside down. They were all, with the exception of daughter Bea, deep in arrears with bills they could now, not pay. Without the windfall, many of the families were suddenly in desperate need of cash, and their reactions varied from sympathy toward their brother to anger at him and their mother. When a contrite Leo asked for their trust and promised that he would try and repay them in 90 days, what could they do? Could he be trusted or would he revert to his former reckless life and behavior? Would he burn all his bridges? What choices would he make? Would he be responsible or revert to his past behavior, drinking, doing drugs, womanizing and lying? They were between a rock and a hard place.
Will the family be able to put themselves back together again? Will adversity destroy them or bring them closer? From my own personal experience, I know that it is difficult to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. What would have probably been a perfect analysis of the Plumb family, in crisis, seemed to turn into a book that had a PC agenda demanding that every controversial issue on G-d’s earth have an audience. There is Stephanie, the pregnant former girlfriend of Leo Plumb who becomes a single mother. There is an illegal, under aged immigrant, in the person of a promiscuous girl who was performing a sex act when the car accident, the catalyst causing the ultimate family crisis, actually occurred. Leo is a sociopath in his early 40’s. He is married, but childless, addicted to drugs and his own pleasure, and is in the throes of a disastrous divorce from his spendthrift, money hungry, high-flying and very angry, vindictive wife, Victoria. He thinks nothing of lying and serving his own needs first, without considering anyone else. There is Vinnie who lost his arm in an IED explosion and is an angry young man. He loves Matilda and believes that she has been taken advantage of by the wealthy Plumb family and their high end attorney. They make an odd couple, one footless and one armless, like the Rodin sculpture of The Kiss that was damaged in the terrorist attack that took down the Towers. We have a retired security guard, Tommy, who finds what he thought was a message from his wife, in the wreckage of the Twin Towers after 9/11, and in a moment of indiscretion, he steals it. This damaged relic, “The Kiss”, remains hidden in his house, as he mourns his loss, and he has been tortured by its theft ever since. We have a homosexual brother, Jack, who is childless, in a relationship with Walker that is coming apart at the seams because of Jack’s questionable ethics, secrets, and lies. We have a sister, Bea, who is unmarried and childless, an author who used her brother as a character in a series of successful novels, but has had no recently published successful books. She is still mourning the loss of her married lover, Tucker, whom she nursed after his stroke until his death. She works for Paul who is a shy man who observes, supports and loves her in silence. The final sibling is sister Melody, who feels neglected and unloved by her mother. She believes she is kind of the outsider in the family. She over compensates for her mother’s neglect, now that she is the mother of twins, by being a somewhat overzealous parent. She spends far more than her pocket can afford as do most of the siblings. Her twins, who are high school students, are struggling with their own sexuality. One, Louisa, believes she is a lesbian and the other, Nora, wonders if she, therefore, is also gay, since they are twins. There is also Simone, Walter, Nathan and more. Graphic sex, too, seems to unnecessarily often pop its head on the pages of this book.
The narrator did a good job of capturing the attitudes and personalities of the characters, portraying them fairly authentically so that the listener can actually see a picture of the character in their mind’s eye. However, there were so many issues and so many characters that it is sometimes difficult to keep everything straight. For that reason, it is better to select the print version. The book is written with levity, although it is not the laugh out loud kind, and much of the subject matter made the funny lines fall flat for me.
A funny thing happened as I was reading about Paul in Part 2...I got sucked in. I started to see the Plumbs through the eyes of the people that care about them. Maybe they weren't so bad after all. Maybe they just let their expectations get away from them. Maybe they were just siblings that got screwed over by their brother's poor choices.
By the end, I didn't hate them nearly as much. I even started to like a couple of the Plumbs, but I always LOVED the non-Plumb characters. They were the real driving force behind this story. The way the author managed to bring it all together is pretty amazing. Excellent book. Now that I'm finished, I understand the hype.
Strangely enough I was reminded of fall's big book, City on Fire. While this one is set in the 2000s and that one was the 1970s, they're both New York City novels with interweaving stories, lots of characters, bad choices, and wealth (remember the Hamilton-Sweeney's?).
This novel will remind you what is really important in life. A bunch of weak and/or hateful siblings stop obsessing about money, write off the most hateful weak/hateful sibling (who, naturally, is the most rich, powerful, and good looking sibling) and cobble together an extended
The opening section is the story introduces us to the Plumb family and boy are the storylines faint. Each sibling has done something dumb about money and is counting the days until their share is delivered and will fix things. None are super rich and none are super poor; they’re just living with debt, much like the rest of America. The thing was that none had a situation that was really dire and nothing really needed resolving. So Melody’s kids will have to go to state schools. So Jack will have to tell Walker about the line of credit against the beach house and they’ll have to sell it. Frances will keep working at her crappy job and living in her crappy apartment.
Then things take a shift and introduce new characters, all of whom are somehow tied to the siblings. Those stories needed resolution and kept the book moving forward with something to achieve. Of course everything revolves around Leo eventually. Leo the cad. Leo the coward. Leo the cheat. As villains go he’s effective, but in a really limpid sort of way. If I hadn’t been through a family squabble over inherited money recently, I might have chalked up his behavior to artistic license, but it’s true. Money turns people into cowardly cads who cheat. It’s a low-key novel that highlights family dynamics well and also each person’s more personal relationships.
In a bird's nest, life's metaphor. An example of a family-- people who aren’t doing what they
Emotional and complex, filled with dark comedy, wit and drama- a look inside today's contemporary family of adult siblings, living beyond their means. Dysfunctional behavior, money, entitlement, and disaster.
The Plumbs are four semi-estranged New York siblings. Each have their own set of life problems—from sex, careers, personal, to financial. We hear from dysfunctional Beatrice, Jack, Melody, and Leo -- their intimate lives are exposed, layer by layer.
Melody, Jack and Bea are in debt and counting on "The Nest" to solve their problems. Leo, is the selfish and narcissistic one. Melody has twins with her own set of problems—college for the twins, house poor; Jack, antiques dealer is hiding things from his partner, and Bea, novelist has her own woes with work and love.
They all have been looking forward (expected and needed)-The Nest. An inheritance with a nice sum. The time is approaching. However, the bad news—the son Leo gets himself into some trouble (an accident)—big trouble (drug-and-alcohol-sex induced car accident) which ultimately, drastically reduces the sum each will receive from The Nest, due to his misdeeds.
Does Leo plan on paying them back?
With some scandalous sex, lesbian scenes, booze, rehab, drugs, lovers, money, entitlement, and financial woes---Sweeney, wows everyone with her stunning, brutally honest, well-written, and hilarious debut. You will laugh out loud at the dramas of family, and relationships.
From misery, self-absorption, debt, real estate, parenting, relationships, college funds, expectations, trust, and betrayal—A trust fund meant to be the answer to the Plumb’s prayers, the author brings the characters to life for a close look at life, family, and relationships. What is left…who is circling like vultures?
Leo's sisters and brother are hoping that Leo can replenish the trust fund—however, selfish Leo has his own secrets with money stashed away; "sharing" is not in his plan.
Along this journey, we meet a cast of other characters in connection with the Plumb siblings. From pressure, scandal, self-destruction, mistakes, blame, to realistic expectations. Sweeney weaves each of the sibling’s stories with lots of wit, and tragedy for a book full of heart and soul. As the four come together to save their inheritance, Sweeney shows the power of family and how wealth can affect our choices and relationships.
Like baby birds, high in a tree, a bird's nest. Each is a part of a nest; family, friends, careers, choices, and relationships. Each nest has different dynamics but ultimately they will all have a very similar possible outcome. When we are all in the nest together, we rely the mama bird (parents), to provide and keep everyone happy and safe. However, when each bird flies on their own everyone fears--some try to pull you back into the nest. Some will not return, and some want the nest to be there for them, to return; when they have failed to build their own successfully.
As we reach the age of settling our parent’s estates, inheritance, emotions run high, and pretty much a given, siblings will disagree—with tensions. Family and money are two subjects which will raise tempers and get the blood pressure rising. Always a bad egg, a screw up, in the family somewhere.
Loved reading the inspiration for the novel and how a woman of 50 goes back to school to write. And wow, what a successful debut—an inspiration for other aspiring authors and writers in mid-life! There is much experience within the lines, only a writer of this age could convey.
I listened to the audio version and Mia Barron delivers an engaging and entertaining performance. While listening to the novel, walking Downtown along Clematis, through all the outdoor sidewalk cafes and bars--people enjoying brunch and cocktails---I had to smile thinking of everyone I passed, could be one of these four adult siblings.
Would make for a great movie! Cannot wait for more from this breakout author. Believe the hype.
It was a good audio for driving as it was not a tear jerker... I really hate getting emotional while driving.
Some of the characters in the books seemed
Aside from hating all of them, the story felt so scattered and all over. There were so many pieces of the story that just felt so random and out of place. Unnecessary even. Matilda's chapters for example really had no place in the story and could easily have been left out for all the good they did to move the story forward, which is to say, not at all.
The twin daughters chapters as well really did very little to add to the story being told, other then to temporarily distract from their horribly selfish mother.
It all just felt like an entitled, though why they feel that way is never explained, family who have problems much of the rest of us do, but rather then deal with them like adults they to do illegal things, risk their children's future, and exploit their brothers failure to write a novel again. And don't even get me started on Leo. Probably the most worthless character ever written. It confuses me how anyone would ever give him the time of day, and so made the novel feel completely unlikely and out of touch for me.
Overall it just felt like several different puzzle pieces from separate puzzles trying to be forced together to make a complete puzzle, but ultimately failing.