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. Read more...
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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, 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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-04
- Reviewer: Staff
As four middle-aged Plumb siblings—Leo, Beatrice, Jack, and Melody—await the distribution of the trust fund their father had established for them as just an extra dividend in what he assumed would be their financially comfortable lives, they find themselves in dire economic straits. Unfortunately, the Nest (as they call the trust fund) had been used to settle the medical bills for a young woman who was badly injured when an inebriated Leo crashed his Porsche while they were inside it and getting intimate. Already a sadly dysfunctional family, the siblings plan to confront Leo. In a clever touch that reveals their hopes and desperation, each secretly has a drink in a different Manhattan bar before they convene to hear Leo swear he will get his act together and pay back the money. That Leo can’t be trusted is evident to the reader right away, but his segue into a meaningful domestic relationship with a literary agent seems hopeful. Meanwhile, his siblings try to avoid other financial crises, brought on by their own irresponsible behavior. Jack can’t repay the loans he has kept secret from his husband; Melody won’t be able to meet the mortgage payments on her home or forthcoming college tuition for her twin daughters; Bea has been forced to return the advance on the second novel she cannot write. In her debut, Sweeney spins a fast-moving, often-humorous narrative, and her portrait of each sibling is compassionate even as she reveals their foibles with emotional clarity. She sets scenes among iconic Manhattan watering places, capturing the tempo of various neighborhoods. Her writing is assured, energetic, and adroitly plotted, sweeping the reader along through an engrossing narrative that endears readers to the Plumb family for their essential humanity. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Mar.)
An uneasy family reunion
Readers who devour quirky family dramas like Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Be Frank With Me won’t want to miss this anticipated debut about a dysfunctional New York City family. In The Nest, the four adult Plumb children have been counting on their inheritance: Melody has two daughters to send to college, Jack needs some cash to keep his struggling business afloat, and Beatrice is years overdue with her second novel. But when their fresh-out-of-rehab oldest brother, Leo, loses it all, the siblings must reshape their futures.
Author Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney worked as a marketing copywriter before turning to fiction. She’s at her best when describing the fluctuating sibling bonds within a large family—the uneasy alliances, the simmering resentments, the unspoken secrets and the fierce love. She also nails the ways the money can affect relationships, in ways large and small. Smart, moving and warm-hearted, The Nest is a debut to savor.