Book of the Week: The Nest – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This debut has been a pleasure to work on from the moment a sales department colleague suggested I take a look because it really had something special, through seeing that for myself, to watching bookseller after bookseller read it and agree, to seeing it land up on every list of “most anticipated spring books,” to landing the #1 Indie Next pick for April. Now we’re three weeks from on sale and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the book reading world thinks.

So what’s the big deal? Is this some weighty Franzen-like tome? Are we talking Eggers or DeLillo? The next suspense blockbuster with an alcoholic crime solver on a train? None of the above.

In fact The Nest could fool you. It’s funny, stylish, dishy—occasionally hilarious—and goes down very, very easy. But don’t mistake that for froth. This social satire traces its lineage straight back to Jane Austen.

The Plumbs are four entitled, upper middle class siblings in middle age. How they come to terms with each other and their own lives when their long-awaited trust fund is used to bail their oldest brother makes up the heart of the story. (Bonus points: It takes place in publishing. The “bad” brother is a coke-snorting, slippery, charismatic magazine publisher; his sister a one-time literary wunderkind still working on her next book decades later.)

While you’ll enjoy every minute with the charming, dysfunctional Plumbs, in the end this sharp-eyed social satire will leave you pondering what families mean to one another; how class, money and entitlement define and distort our sense of self; and how we do (or don’t) cope with what the world throws at us.

As I mentioned this is a #1 Indie Next pick; it’s also a LibraryReads pick and arrives with great media coverage: the author will discuss her book on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers the night before on sale and will also be interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered. There will be a New York Magazine feature the week of on sale and reviews are already scheduled for the NYTBR, People, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times and San Francisco Chronicle–with many more to come, I’m sure.

In an arresting prologue to this generous, absorbing novel, Leo Plumb leaves his cousin’s wedding early, drunk and high, with one of the waitresses and has a car accident whose exact consequences are withheld for quite some time. To make his troubles go away, Leo pillages a $2 million account known as ‘The Nest,’ left by his father for the four children to…. [Leo] promises to make good, and despite his history of unreliability, the others remain enough under the spell of their charismatic brother to fall for it. The rest of the book is a wise, affectionate study of how expectations play out in our lives–not just financial ones, but those that control our closest relationships.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“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….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.
Publishers Weekly

“[B]rings to mind John Cheever, or maybe even the TV series Bloodlines, in which one of the siblings is a particular mess and the others have to deal with him. But The Nest has been described as “warm,” “funny,” and “tender,” so perhaps the novel is more an antidote to the darkness in family dysfunction we’ve known and loved — f*’d-up families with hearts of gold?”
–The Millions

The Nest is a juicy plum(b) of a book, ripe to bursting with characters who in turn surprise, excite, and enthrall.  Four siblings find themselves scrambling when their coveted inheritance is decimated after the eldest brother’s foolish accident drains the funds they’ve already committed elsewhere.  Who will be crushed by the uncertainties, who will rise above them, and who will run away? …While you won’t wish to join the dysfunctional Plumb clan, you’ll be grateful to admire and judge them from afar.
— Kelly Morton, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

The Nest is an engrossing debut about the Plumb family; four dysfunctional adult siblings living in New York City. After one of them blows their shared inheritance to clean up his own mess, everyone is forced to reroute their plans and face their realities head on. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney writes a smart perspective on how expectations can control our lives, relationships, and the power of family.”
— Stephanie Coleman, Tattered Cover, Denver, CO

The Nest is a perfect modern domestic fable with a deliciously dysfunctional cast of characters. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s writing is so good that you’ll never believe this is a debut novel. As she seemingly effortlessly shifts from one character’s voice to another, I marveled at her ability to simultaneously skewer her characters while also portraying them with real heart and compassion. The Nest is a brilliant look at entitlement, sibling rivalry, and human frailty. Loved it!”
— Mary Wolf, Collected Works, Santa Fe, NM

“Delicious! Delicious!  You are immediately drawn into the drama of the Plumb family….Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney has a perfect ear for the drama, disappointment and self-inflicted pain that the confluence of money, family and greed can create. From page one you want to hear their story—willing to fasten your seat belt and see where these complex creatures take us!  It is a hell of a ride and worth the trip.”
— Roxanne J. Coady – R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT

The Nest (9780062414212) by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. $26.99 hardcover. 3/22/16 on sale.

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