Armchair Book Club: The Nest

Heather Allen explores a family and an inheritance in her review of The Nest.

Many families fall apart over inheritance. We like to think we will be different when it comes to handling an estate. Unlike so many others, we will be civilized. We won’t be greedy, and we won’t fight.

The Nest, a first-time novel by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, shows that even with the best intentions, dealing with an inheritance can be fraught with trouble. Leonard Plumb, who dies as a young father, leaves his self-made family fortune to his children. But there’s a catch. Leonard stipulates that his children, in the interest of becoming fully independent, will have to wait until the youngest child turns 40 before they can claim their money.

This, of course, doesn’t stop them from fantasizing about the cash, or spending it before the inheritance, which they fondly refer to as the nest, gets into their hands. It also doesn’t stop the investment market from growing the nest into a sizeable fortune.

This book is full of light adventure — perfect for a summertime read — opening with the oldest sibling speeding away from a family wedding celebration in a Porsche for a tryst with a teenage caterer. As might be expected, this goes disastrously wrong.

Handsome, charismatic Leo survives the high-speed crash, but his passenger is badly injured. In short, he needs an infusion of an enormous chunk of cash to cover up this image-crushing disaster. His three siblings probably can’t be expected to fork over their inheritance, nor can he appeal to his distant, cool mother.

But with love and money, strange things happen. In true sibling fashion, Leo’s two sisters and brother meet at a restaurant to sort out the mess, and quickly fall into their childhood roles. From that meeting, D’Aprix Sweeney takes us back to fill in the stories of each of the siblings.

They are all trying to maintain an image for each other that is not entirely accurate or true. One is keeping a big secret from his partner; another is faced with losing her home. Another has a secret offshore account and is planning his great escape.

But as bad as things get in this rollicking novel, what unfolds probably doesn’t even come close to some real life scenarios. It’s a parody of the problems of privileged New Yorkers. It’s also a reminder that family is more important than money. And, unlike real life, The Nest comes with a somewhat functional resolution. It’s fiction, after all.



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