Book reviews: New novels great gift ideas for Mom
April 30, 2016
"The Nest," by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
The main characters in this delightfully engaging, warm and funny novel are the four grown Plumb family siblings, their mother, Francie, and her second husband, all living in New York City.
"The Nest" is a small savings investment account established by their father before his untimely death, which is to be divided equally among his four children when the youngest daughter, Melody, reaches the age of 40. Thanks to George, their prudent and savvy second cousin who oversees the account, the modest savings grows into a substantial inheritance.
Just before Melody's 40th birthday, Leo, the eldest, is involved in a messy scandal, and mother steps in to use the bulk of The Nest to bail him out. Of course, the other three siblings have been desperately waiting for the funds to bail themselves out of one financial mess or another. Family tensions run high as each expects Leo to pay them back, and relationships are strained over it all.
What makes "The Nest" such a fun read is that, even though the characters are rather despicable, the reader can't help but like them, despite their flaws. This is a story about the unbreakable ties of family and the possibilities of imagining a different future when all does not go according to plan.
"Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice," by Curtis Sittenfeld
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Curtis Sittenfeld has crafted a funny, smart and engaging modern take on Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice."
The modern-day Bennet family, living in Cincinnati, features five unmarried sisters ranging in age from early 20s to almost 40.
The two youngest live at home and are too busy with CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to find jobs. Mary, the third daughter, also lives at home and is holed up in her room working on her third online master's degree.
When Mr. Bennet suffers a heart attack, the two older daughters, who live in New York City, rush home to help. What they find is a decaying, old house, their family in financial demise and two very eligible, new-in-town bachelors, young doctors Chip Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy.
The cast of characters in this modernization of a classic novel on class and marriage have far more contemporary issues to grapple with, including shopping addiction, hoarding, eating disorders, sexuality and racism.
However, the novel is great fun and a charming romp for everyone who enjoys romantic comedy and subtle satire. Sittenfeld was a 2014 Literary Sojourn author, and her many local fans should applaud her delightful new book.
Chris Painter is library director at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
This book is available at the Bud Werner Memorial Library and at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore; e-books can be found at steamboatbooks.com.