The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is a tale of four siblings playing the waiting game – waiting for a large inheritance that will be paid out to the four adults once Melody, the youngest sibling, turns forty. Melody’s fortieth birthday is coming up but it seems not soon enough. The four siblings, Leo, Beatrice, Jack, and Melody have been spending for years – just waiting for the payout. All four are counting on “the nest” to cover their debts and allow them to continue living the lives that they are so comfortable living.
Leo, a self-absorbed addict, made a killing in the online publishing world of gossip, but now the money is gone. To make the situation worse, Leo, married, picks up a young waitress at a family wedding and whisks her away promising to introduce the aspiring singer to people that could help her. This drunken getaway ends in a horrific car accident. A car accident that takes the bulk of the nest to cover costs, pay off the waitress, and keep the family name out of the news.
Beatrice, Jack, and Melody are not so generous and are expecting the return of their money – all before Melody’s birthday.
The story takes twists and turns as we look into the different lives of the siblings and their families. Sweeney covers the gamut of characters in this novel – we have narcissistic, gay, single, divorced, helicopter mom, absent mother, twins, justice fighting lawyer, and 9/11 widow. We see glimmers of humanity and love warped by greed. There is levity and gravity to the situations at hand. There is comic relief as Beatrice dumps a platter of cookies into her purse and then thanks the hostess for the wonderful evening.
There is so much that goes into the development of this family and the relationships between the siblings. Everything over the years has been shadowed by the thought that the nest, their inheritance, will be there. Decisions made by all four siblings are based on this expected windfall when Melody turns forty. When their financial lives are threatened, secrets are revealed, and the seams of their lives begin to rip. The three younger siblings band together in hopes that Leo, the charismatic sibling, can pull it together and come up with a plan to save them all.
Leo, however, has his own plan.
Cynthia does a wonderful job bringing the characters to life. This was a fun read – at times dark and twisted other times light and funny. As a book club read, it did not lead to a lot of discussion. There was one point we questioned – Why did Beatrice turn away from Leo? We were all in agreement in our thoughts on this point and on most everything that unfolded throughout the plot. There were many characters to get to know in this novel, and Cynthia did a great job tying all the many threads of this story into a nice neat bow at the end. The Nest was well received and enjoyed by everyone in the book club.
I love to pair books with food whenever possible. This book is an easy one to come up with food pairings! From the four siblings meeting in the Grand Central Station Oyster Bar, to Walker preparing a lovely menu for Melody’s 40th birthday party, to the snatched platter of cookies, there is food to be found in this book. The most memorable meal was Melody’s 40th birthday party, where Walker (Jack’s husband) lovingly prepares an antipasto platter, chicken scaloppini, and coconut birthday cake. This is all served with deliciously chilled lemoncello. Melody is in heaven! Initially. Because like so much in the book – this party has many twists and turns as well. Even more family secrets are revealed that night.
For our book club meeting I prepared my Chicken Scaloppini Appetizer Bites and Mini Lemon Coconut Cupcakes. While I made the scaloppini from scratch, I used a box mix for the cupcakes. I used a lemon cake for the mini cupcakes, vanilla frosting from the can, and dipped them in fresh shredded coconut. Yes, I take shortcuts.
The lemon of the chicken and the lemon of the cupcakes goes especially well with a glass of chilled lemoncello!
Book clubs are a fun way to keep yourself reading, enjoy lively discussion, savor some delicious food, and relish in the company of other readers.
Our next book club read is The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I love the beginning!
I am also really enjoying Hamilton by Ron Chernow, this is a long historical read, a very fascinating story of Alexander Hamilton’s life.