The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
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.
Holy first world problems.
The Plumbs are three New York siblings who have each been relying on their inheritance (to be paid on the fortieth birthday of the youngest) to bail them out of mistakes, pad their kids' futures, whatever a seriously large sum of money can get in New York these days. The fourth Plumb sibling gets himself involved in a scandal, resulting in his mother using The Nest to keep things quiet and pay for his stint in rehab. On his emergence from vice detox, his brother and sisters band together to demand their money back. Sounds self-absorbed, doesn't it? It was; I loved it.
The views of New York Sweeney gives us, and the quick mentions of places you may have been, were something of a delight, however fleeting. Even the brownstones, the stoops, the park - gorgeous.
Sweeney does a great job here with multiple viewpoint narratives. With the siblings in similar, yet alternating levels of apathy with each other, each of their feelings, memories, and grudges are shown to us as they come together to discuss and ameliorate the desiccated funds.
Having agreed to no drinking at the lunch date with their booze and drugs addicted brother, the three siblings go separately to three different bars around Grand Central station for a quick shot of Dutch courage. This is where we first learn of their motivations and demands as individuals, before they all meet and switch on their social facades. It was subtle, yet absolutely glorious.
None of these people are likeable. They're all shallow, selfish and greedy, with complete tunnel vision focusing on their own wants. None of them were concerned for their brother's descent into shame; each of them were solely concerned with their inheritance, or what the lack of it would mean for them and what they'd have to sacrifice. They were complete New York caricatures, yet their downfall was so utterly delicious, it read like gossip.
As I was approaching the end of the novel, I wondered how Sweeney was going to wrap everything up with only twenty pages to go. It didn't seem enough, and if I'm really honest, it wasn't. The finale was the happy ending I didn't think would come; didn't think should come, and I was disappointed. Everything tied up nicely in a pretty box with a tight little bow - not something I usually subscribe to.
Despite the ending, this was a well-written story with a delectable plot. Who knew a hand job could have such disastrous effects?