For all the acerbic humor that Sweeney wrings from this family’s self-absorption, she 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. And because we need some relief from the Plumbs — lest they grow intolerably annoying — the book expands to explore their far more mature friends, relations and victims.
It’s easy to see why Sweeney’s debut earned her a seven-figure advance and early praise from fans including Amy Poehler and Elizabeth Gilbert. 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.
The Nest doesn’t need much in the way of set dressing. It just has the author’s excellent antennas for describing the New York area and that evergreen fuel for food fights: an inheritance meant to be divided among adult children. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney lived in New York for many years before relocating to Los Angeles. Her familiarity with both cities animates The Nest, about the four dysfunctional (what did you expect?) Plumb siblings and their fiscal expectations.