DeB MaRtEnS's Reviews > The Nest

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
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it was amazing
bookshelves: feeling-it, memorably-good, outstanding-bests, thought-provoking, aplus-2016

They knew, unconsciously, where their parents' investments really were. The father's was in work, the success, the financial reward of a job exceptionally well done. Leonard Plumb's old family money had been squandered when he needed an education, but his ingenuity led him to build a thriving business. Their mother, a bit of a mean woman, was primarily enamoured of herself although she found Leo the least irritating and most amiable of her four children.

When Melody, the youngest, was sixteen Leonard decided to set up a trust fund (like the one he didn't get?) for his children, an inheritance that he determined would merely be "a modest nest egg, conservatively invested... The funds would not be available until Melody turned forty."

So begins the novel, "The Nest" by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, a brilliant composition about an inheritance and its effect on the adults meant to receive it. Her insights are remarkably evoked by the emotional lives of the Plumb children, Leo, Bea, Jack and Melody. Each character, the role they fill in their childhood family and the limitations of their present lives originate in that "Nest". They were arrogantly delineated as being not commendably mature by Leonard over two decades ago and each assigned a label which, if not known to them, would still have been understood by them: Melody- "not the brightest", Bea- THE brightest, Leo- "the most charming" and Jack- "the most resourceful".

Well-invested, the nest egg becomes significant but shortly before its time of dispersal, Leo's ill-advised rendezvous with a young woman leaves her permanently disabled. His mother Francie is aghast over the public scandal which could ruin her present husband's blue blood reputation; settlement ensues as an emergency measure, draining the two million dollar trust of all but two hundred thousand dollars. The lives changed by that money are another story within the story, gracefully unfolding beside the angst of the Plumbs'.

Inheritances, and trust funds in particular, are tricky. How they are set up and who they affect can inflict immeasurable pain. The money can become the symbol of love and attention otherwise unavailable in a child's life, and favouritism will be seen immediately for what it truly is- rejection of others. Francie essentially disinherited Leo's siblings by her actions and Leo did nothing to stop it. That's the other thing about trust funds; how they are managed can change everything in an instant because of a whim, an imagined slight and betrayal becomes the wretched offering, far worse than loss of money.

Trust funds, in their creation, can be an act of ego and not love; no matter their size, they disempower rather than empower as does the conditional approval of a parent. Messy inheritances expose and unmask everyday treachery. It's run, fly or die...

How many windows did Sweeney listen beneath to hear such true and desperate secrets? How many hurting friends did she hug? Who was under her microscope for her to be able to describe the nuances of a family under this type of siege? And how did she know that, eventually, it was all about these people meeting themselves anew, refreshed and perhaps capable of real "trust" realized between them personally? Or not...?

Sweeney's writing is impeccable, the intricate interface of the characters' stories always congruent. The tempo of the plot has such urgency that I dared not set it down and lost all sense of time while reading. I marvelled at her illustrative ability when drawing scenes with a minimum of words, and then pulling me there with her characters.

"She stiffened. Her face went dark with worry and confusion. She closed her eyes and lowered her chin."

The people in "The Nest" are vulnerable, fragile creatures at times and the best of them find their mettle which has been long hidden from themselves. Even in their most self-centred moments, Sweeney gives them tenderness and glimpses of how this tragedy might actually unencumber them. As the Plumbs percolate over their minimized inheritance and mourn being the unloved children of self-satisfied and cold parents, in another neighbourhood the tragedy of 9/11 has taken possession of a grieving widower. Does one loss supersede another - or is a serious loss the same in the manner it tests resilience, reshapes lives, encourages empathy?


I'll be thinking about this novel for a while... The review took hours to write...
Such an impressive book. Unhesitatingly five stars!
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Reading Progress

February 3, 2016 – Shelved
February 3, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
June 20, 2016 – Started Reading
June 21, 2016 – Shelved as: outstanding-bests
June 21, 2016 – Shelved as: feeling-it
June 21, 2016 – Shelved as: memorably-good
June 21, 2016 – Shelved as: thought-provoking
June 21, 2016 – Finished Reading
December 9, 2016 – Shelved as: aplus-2016

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)

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Claire Ah! It's good that you ended up liking it!


message 2: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Claire wrote: "Ah! It's good that you ended up liking it! "
I've taken hours to write a review, but it's finished now!


message 3: by Paromjit (new)

Paromjit Your investment in the review shines through with your love of the book. Excellent review.


Victoria Such a lovely and introspective review, those that only read this on the surface missed so much. Thank you for shining a light on its depth.


Diane S ☔ Loved your review but unfortunately this novel did not resonate with me as it did with you.


Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters Great review.......... (and hours to write?) --you can have ice cream now! lol xoxoxo
wonderful --I liked the book too!!!


Emma I really enjoyed this book too! It seems to be a marmite book- people either loved it or hated it!


message 8: by Esil (new) - added it

Esil Fabulous review DeB. I have this one waiting on my night stand. Clearly I should get to it.


message 9: by Bryanne (new) - added it

Bryanne Loved the review! I've seen such polarizing thoughts about this book and I was beginning to think it may be just another over-hyped bestseller, but now you have me thinking I still want to give it a shot. Thanks!


JanB Deb, beautifully written review! This one didn't quite work for me as well as it did for you - but I enjoyed reading your appreciation of it!


message 11: by Carol (new)

Carol I have this on my list and will read your review after I've read it.


message 12: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Diane S ☔ wrote: "Loved your review but unfortunately this novel did not resonate with me as it did with you."
I wondered what you'd think of my review... Read your quickly mid- way writing this one. I know these people. Their shades and tones are varied but I recognize them well. I was almost afraid to read the novel because of the subject matter; instead, I deeply appreciaged the sensitivity and nuances of what is an astounding portrait of an inheritance soured from its inception by the father who required his children to become his clones, his images whom would then get their reward. Imagine in real life, if he had lived, how he would have toyed with them... It is a masterful book but I believe only truly felt if you've had to suffer through the same kind of garbage. Power and control issues by a parent can keep adult children from maturing, just like this novel- and just like my alienated siblings.


message 13: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Paromjit wrote: "Your investment in the review shines through with your love of the book. Excellent review."
Lovely words from you. Thank you so much.


message 14: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Esil wrote: "Fabulous review DeB. I have this one waiting on my night stand. Clearly I should get to it."
I hope you like it. As with many pieces of writing, whether it is relatable in some way is often what makes it worthy to the reader. There are parallels in some ways to parts of my own life.


message 15: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS JanB wrote: "Deb, beautifully written review! This one didn't quite work for me as well as it did for you - but I enjoyed reading your appreciation of it!"

Thank you, Jan!


message 16: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Carol wrote: "I have this on my list and will read your review after I've read it."
Great!


message 17: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Bryanne wrote: "Loved the review! I've seen such polarizing thoughts about this book and I was beginning to think it may be just another over-hyped bestseller, but now you have me thinking I still want to give it ..."
Thanks so much. I hoped to give perspective on the almost invisible stranglehold the the father, in particular, had on his children's sense of self and development into mature adults. They were stuck, acting out their "labels" from the time the Nest was created. It changes how you see the main characters.


message 18: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Esil wrote: "Fabulous review DeB. I have this one waiting on my night stand. Clearly I should get to it."
Thanks, Esil. My point of view has been heavily influenced by personal experience- which you will note, reading my responses to others' comments. I saw right away that it was what the Nest represented, not the money, which had such deep repercussions. I hope you enjoy it.


message 19: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Emma wrote: "I really enjoyed this book too! It seems to be a marmite book- people either loved it or hated it!"
Well put!


Diane S ☔ DeB wrote: "Diane S ☔ wrote: "Loved your review but unfortunately this novel did not resonate with me as it did with you."
I wondered what you'd think of my review... Read your quickly mid- way writing this o..."


Can definitely see how you would feel differently if you could relate to these characters. Our life experiences come into play when reading a novel, places and feelings too, I believe.


message 21: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Elyse wrote: "Great review.......... (and hours to write?) --you can have ice cream now! lol xoxoxo
wonderful --I liked the book too!!!"

Oh, Elyse... It DID take me hours... Longer than reading the book... It is a review I seemed to have to craft every sentence individually, then go back to read from the beginning to see if it told what I intended. I felt this book deeply; that some of the siblings actually managed to swiftly begin to mature, develop insight and careful bonds with one another I found remarkably uplifting. Real life is seldom so kind. Yes, it was slow going. I wanted to make sure that I showed my appreciation for the author; the subtleties she managed were uncanny. I know these people; however, The Nest is the fairytale version of my experience.


message 22: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Victoria wrote: "Such a lovely and introspective review, those that only read this on the surface missed so much. Thank you for shining a light on its depth."
I love your comments, Victoria. Thank you so much.


message 23: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Fantastic review, Deb :)


message 24: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol I just downloaded this novel today! Your review was masterful! I too will relate to these characters. Your review conjured up some painful past memories.


message 25: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS Carol wrote: "I just downloaded this novel today! Your review was masterful! I too will relate to these characters. Your review conjured up some painful past memories."
Thank you so very much, Carol. It was the right book at the right time, for me and led to a great deal of introspection. Yes, there are some events which cast long shadows...


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