Carolyn's Reviews > Nest

Nest by Inga Simpson
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it was amazing
bookshelves: australian-author, favourite-books

This is a beautiful novel about a woman called Jen who has returned to her childhood home to live a simpler life and recover from grief and lost love. Inga Simpson writes lyrically about the birds and trees that make up Jen's surroundings and clearly has a fine eye for noting the small details and nuances of the natural world. The descriptions of the birds are so sharp and colourful you can almost see them in your mind's eye, such as these Eastern Robins bathing: "Of all the birds, they were the most ridiculous, pitching chest first into the water and shaking themselves into fluffy rounds until their eyes and legs disappeared." She also clearly appreciates the beauty of trees, as evident in this description of a brush box tree: "New shoots began as a pale green bud, emerging in early summer, vertically, like a flower, before opening up into a hand of leaves, giving the trees the look of a sculpted bonsai."

Jen has been deeply wounded by the ending of a long term relationship with a self-centred man and following the death of her mother, gives up her job teaching art and moves back to her parents house to return to her first love, drawing and painting birds. Initially she cocoons herself from the townspeople and news of the outside world, nursing her grief and lost love: "But she hung on all the same, nursing it like a blown egg, the fragile shell of what it had once been. It was all she had, and she had no intention of casting it out of the nest."

After advertising private art lessons, Jen starts teaching Henry, a talented primary school student, and gradually starts to reconnect with the community. When one of Henry's classmates disappears Jen is forced back to remember her own childhood when her best friend Michael disappeared without trace.

The story of Jen's previous life, her current re-awakening and the mystery of the missing children is woven together throughout the book, illustrated with evocative descriptions of the bush and nature. Birds are a recurrent theme as are the nature of nests, a metaphor for Jen's life. Drawing an empty nest she suddenly discovers life within "But there was something else, someone in the nest: a scrubwren, her yellow eyes scowling beneath white eyebrow markings......While drawing her empty nest, she had imagined its lost inhabitants, trying to bring life and loss to the page. Somehow she had drawn life to the nest instead."

There is much to love in this gentle story, which builds slowly to a climax with the coming of the longed for summer rains to renew the parched bush and bring some resolution to Jen's life.

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Reading Progress

July 26, 2014 – Shelved
July 26, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
November 21, 2014 – Started Reading
November 23, 2014 – Finished Reading
November 24, 2014 – Shelved as: australian-author
January 12, 2015 – Shelved as: favourite-books

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Brenda Excellent review Carolyn! Beautifully written yourself..


Carolyn Thank you Brenda. There were so many lovely phrases that I had to restrain myself from not putting in too many quotes!


Brenda I agree, it's a beautiful book:) A very talented writer...


☼♄Jülie  Beautiful review Carolyn, I love the quotes you've chosen...she really is a very talented writer.


Marianne lovely review, Carolyn


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