cover image The Nest

The Nest

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Ecco, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-241421-2

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.)