42 reviews

The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Published: 2016-03-22
Hardcover : 368 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 32 of 42 members

Instant New York Times Bestseller; named a Best Book of 2016 by People, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, Refinery29, NPR and LibraryReads.

“Hilarious and big-hearted, The Nest is a stellar debut.” — People

“Her writing is like really good dark chocolate: sharper and ...

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Instant New York Times Bestseller; named a Best Book of 2016 by People, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, Refinery29, NPR and LibraryReads.

“Hilarious and big-hearted, The Nest is a stellar debut.” — People

“Her writing is like really good dark chocolate: sharper and more bittersweet than the cheap stuff, but also too delicious not to finish in one sitting.”— Entertainment Weekly

“Humor and delightful irony abound in this lively first novel.”— New York Times Book Review

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.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of March 2016: The Nest is a debut novel about a dysfunctional New York family. That’s a pretty common subject for a novel and not very interesting in itself. But there’s magic that happens when you pick up a book, start reading and realize that what the author has chosen to write about—the places, the characters, the dialogue, the set pieces—they’re all just right. That’s how I felt reading this book. The Nest is not populated with characters who are entirely lovable, but I felt each was uniquely human and identifiable, and I especially wanted to know where life would take the four 40-something Plumb family siblings (particularly that rapscallion Leo). Some will take issue with the Plumbs and their upper middle class problems. Some will detest Leo and his family and find harsher descriptions than “rapscallion.” But for my money, The Nest is a great read. This book will be among my favorites of 2016, as I suspect it will be for many readers. --Chris Schluep


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Discussion Questions

1. The Nest does not center on a sole protagonist, but rather a group of people. How did Sweeney’s decision to structure her novel this way—from the perspective of multiple characters, and in the third person, affect the way you identified with the characters? Did you find that it made you more or less sympathetic to each sibling’s predicament, and in what way? Could you imagine yourself in any of their shoes?

2. Each sibling (as well as a few other characters, like Vinnie) keeps secrets—not just from one another, but from the important people in their lives—their partners, their children, their parents, their friends. Did you find that there were secrets that should have been revealed earlier in the story? Did you find that more secrets were kept for selfless or selfish reasons? Have you ever kept any important secrets? Would you do so again?

3. Most of the novel takes place in and around New York City —the Plumb family grew up on Long Island, and three of the four Plumb siblings made Manhattan their home. A 9/11 subplot also weaves its way throughout the novel. What makes—or doesn’t make—this novel feel like a New York novel to you? Did it bolster or contradict any of your opinions or beliefs about New York City?

4. Each sibling seems to feel that they are the ones who need the money from the Nest the most. Did you find yourself leaning toward the pleas or the argument of one sibling in particular, and if so, who, and why?

5. How do the Plumb siblings’ relationships—both with one another, and as a group vs. Leo, evolve over the course of the novel—and from adolescence to adulthood? If you have brothers or sisters, have your relationships changed, or are the dynamics still fundamentally the same?

6. Leo and Stephanie’s romance shifts in significant ways over the course of the novel. In what ways does their relationship change, and in what ways is it affected by the opinions and decisions made by the rest of the family? Have you ever found yourself in a relationship where your partner and your family clashed with one another?

7. How did you feel about the novel’s end, regarding Leo’s fate? Did the epilogue satisfy enough of your desire for a ‘happy ending,’ or with Leo’s absence, was it more melancholy than expected?

8. Do you feel that the bond of family trumps all—including behavior? Do you think it’s possible to rebuild trust once it has been broken? Why or why not? And are there some bonds that can become stronger than those of family?

Suggested by Members

by bubbex2 (see profile) 03/25/17

Do you think children should expect an inheritance?
Did any character show a significant amount of personal growth, or did they remain static?
Was Francine a strong Mother?
by ciao2t (see profile) 02/02/17

Why do you think some sentences are so long? Is it the authors style, or is it part of the nest.
What happened to the nest money anyway?
by lizblair (see profile) 07/23/16

Which character did you find the most disturbing?
Which character did you find yourself secretly cheering on ?
How does the setting of this book influence the plot?
by BetsyO58 (see profile) 07/18/16

The discussion questions at http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/10572-nest-sweeny?start=3 are excellent.
by phacht (see profile) 06/22/16

Which sibling did you relate to the most
do you have money/inheritance slated for the future that shapes the way you live now
would you help a family member the way these siblings helped Leo?
by [email protected] (see profile) 06/02/16

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

“The Nest ambles along so beautifully, what a pleasure to read! It’s a wise, funny, compassionate family drama, full of irresistible surprises, witty conversations, and necessary emotional truths.” — Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins

“A masterfully constructed, darkly comic, and immensely captivating tale...not only clever, but emotionally astute. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is a real talent.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

“In her intoxicating first novel, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney has written an epic family story that unfolds in a deeply personal way. The Nest is a fast-moving train and Sweeney’s writing dares us to keep up. I couldn’t stop reading or caring about the juicy and dysfunctional Plumb family.” — Amy Poehler

“Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney delivers an acerbic satire of the leisure class while crafting an affecting human story that embroils us utterly in the fates of the Plumbs...This book keeps its blade sharp and its heart open.” — Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves

“The Nest is a trenchant, darkly funny, and beautiful novel.” — Bret Anthony Johnston

“Humor and delightful irony abound in this lively first novel.” — New York Times Book Review

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...assured, energetic, and adroitly plotted...an engrossing narrative that endears readers to the Plumb family for their essential humanity.” — Publishers Weekly

“[A] generous, absorbing novel...Sweeney’s endearing characters are quirky New Yorkers all... [a] lively novel. A fetching debut from an author who knows her city, its people, and their heart.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This dysfunctional family novel, arriving in March, has best-seller potential written all over it. Scenes in The Nest, which follows four adult siblings and the inheritance shared between them, play out cinematically... certainly every bit as entertaining as a movie, too, and impossibly witty to boot. — Elle

“As siblings struggle with money woes, their humble inheritance turns into a full-blown cash cow. There’s only one problem: the black sheep of the family.” — Cosmopolitan, Cosmo Reads

“Nothing makes your dysfunctional clan look good like another’s-meet the Plumb siblings, caught up in a trust fund battle, in Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest.” — Marie Claire

Largehearted and witty, The Nest is a tender portrait of a family who must face their past choices and the consequences of their expected inheritance on their relationships and one another.” — Buzzfeed

A compulsively readable novel that will keep you thinking about how expectations can shape our lives, and what happens when we can no longer rely on them.” — PopSugar

“In this hilarious family saga, a group of adult siblings find their futures uncertain when they realize the shared inheritance they’ve been counting on might have been drained by their reckless older brother.” — Entertainment Weekly, 9 Books You Have to Read in March

a precise and deftly braided story...a breezier The Emperor’s Children, by turns winsome, biting, and addictive.” — New York magazine / Vulture

“All it will take is a few pages of this book’s strikingly hypnotic prologue, and you’ll be sucked in... Better than reality TV, you won’t be able to stop reading this until you’ve sucked out all the juicy drama.” — Bustle, 15 of the Best Books of March 2016

“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.” — BookPage, 9 Women to Watch in 2016

“Fans of dark comedy are sure to appreciate the twisted humor and compassion found in this novel, which explores the ever-binding relationship between brothers and sisters. The Nest is gripping family drama at its best.” — Refinery 29, 5 Brand-New Books to Read in March

“The dynamics and foibles of family take center stage here, interweaving four characters’ tumultuous journeys to paint a rich picture of domestic drama.” — B&N Reads, The Best New Fiction of the Month

“[A] closely observed, charming novel.” — O, the Oprah Magazine

“[S]cenes both witty and tragic... that glow with the confidence of an experienced comic writer... [Sweeney] maintains a refreshing balance of tenderness. Rather than skewering the Plumbs to death, she pokes them, as though probing to find the humanity beneath their cynical crust.” — Washington Post

“The Nest is an addictive, poignant read with an enticing premise.” — Los Angeles Times

“Hilarious and big-hearted, The Nest is a stellar debut.” — People, Book of the Week

“Her writing is like really good dark chocolate: sharper and more bittersweet than the cheap stuff, but also too delicious not to finish in one sitting.” — Entertainment Weekly

“It’s rare to find a novel as guiltily entertaining as it is profound, but The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s engrossing debut, is one such book.” — Elle.com

“Fans of Salinger’s fictional Glass family will take to the Plumbs: Four wealthy Manhattan-born-and-bred siblings whose inheritance (aka “The Nest”) is threatened when one of them gets in a drunk driving accident and subsequently checks into rehab.” — InStyle, 8 Buzzy New Books to Read During Spring Break

“A witty, tender portrait of a very peculiar family, The Nest is a testament to the consequences of our past choices and the ways in which expected inheritance can intimately change relationships.” — Buzzfeed, 19 Incredible New Books You Need To Read This Spring

“It’s funny and it’s deep. And you’ll hate-love them all.” — The Skimm Reads

“Frequently funny, sometimes sad and highly relatable for anyone with a sibling or three, The Nest is a breeze to read and hugely entertaining.” — PureWow

“Sweeney’s family saga balances not only comedy and tragedy, but scandal and achievement, trust and betrayal, belonging and isolation and the complex nature of a family’s love, both at its harshest and most tender.” — Paste Magazine

“Few things are more compelling than looking into the interiors of other people’s lives-and finding a truth or two about our own. In Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s wickedly funny novel THE NEST, four midlife siblings squabble over their inheritance; universal questions about love, trust, ambition, and rivalry roil.” — More magazine

“D’Aprix gives each of the characters a distinct and true personality, and she has a flair for realistic and funny dialogue-readers will feel as though they’re sitting right next to the clan as they bicker and barter. Fans of Jonathan Tropper will adore D’Aprix’s debut.” — Booklist (starred review)

“[A] smartly executed tale of two brothers and two sisters in New York City who are trying hard to ruin what could have been comfortable lives.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“[I]mmensely enjoyable...The Nest is like a love letter to old New York, with scores of lush details that root the story in time and place.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“The Nest is all about families, how we let each other down, and more importantly, how we raise each other up.” — Bustle, 12 Spring Break Reads To Help You Escape Normal Life

“Sweeney writes like a pro.” — New York Times

“[A]promising start for this writer.” — Seattle Times

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

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  "just ok. No one in our group would recommend"by Nancy W. (see profile) 12/13/19

No one in our group particularly enjoyed this book. We chose it as an easy, light December read.

by Tiffany P. (see profile) 11/08/19

by Tatum G. (see profile) 09/22/19

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