My memory from the last few years is hazy but if I recall correctly, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s 2016 novel The Nest was one of the breakout hits of the literary year. I remember seeing it everywhere and hearing about its existence, even if I didn’t know the plot. A little research confirmed at least some of this: the book sold for 7-figures to a publishing house and there were like a billion (very available) copies at my local libraries. This no doubt was a hit with the book club circuit.
I found out more about The Nest on a list of suggested novels for fans of HBO’s Succession. I love Succession; it’s probably my favorite show on TV and I’m still bummed we didn’t get a season in 2020 due to the coronavirus. I also have a high tolerance for vainglorious people doing stuff in and around New York City. So I figured it was time to pick it up.
The New York stuff is fun but this book desperately needs a better editor. It threw so many characters at me in the beginning that the story became unwieldy. It meandered and was impossible to really engage with. As it settled down in the back half, I appreciated what Sweeney was trying to do. But by then, it was too late to connect with the characters.
Speaking of which, the characters here weren’t interesting either. At least not interesting enough to overcome the story itself. They’re not thin but overly familiar. Sweeney isn’t doing anything new. I really didn’t care for anyone besides Stephanie.
The story itself comes to a fine conclusion and everything about it is fine but its tough to see what’s here that justified the hype.