A review by Nalini Haynes
Jen, a middle-aged woman, treats her house like her nest while watching nests and drawing a bird’s nest. A child is abducted, echoing her past when Michael, a friend who was like a brother to her, was abducted when she was a child. Jen volunteers in land care management but, otherwise, tries to stay out of village politics and yet events have a momentum that impacts upon her life.
Nest is a literary novel with parallels and symbolism echoing throughout like an empty house. Jen opens like a flower yet she’s damaged: her father abandoned her as a child and she, likewise, fled an unsatisfactory relationship as an adult. Loss and grief are her core but, over the course of the novel, Jen finds unexpected answers leading to closure and a rebuilding of her world.
I listened to the audiobook read by Inga Simpson, the author. Unlike a professional voice actor, Simpson rushes from the end of one chapter to the title of the next chapter as if the chapter title is an exclamation at the end of the previous sentence. There are other subtleties that detract from the listening experience, like Simpson’s voice becoming a little hoarse in places. Although it’s enjoyable to hear an author read a portion of their writing, I prefer professionals read such a lengthy work.
Nest is a beautiful story, surprising in some of its twists and turns yet it’s a sedate literary tale, not a high-octane thriller. Longlisted for both the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Stella Prize in 2015, Nest is best suited to a book club to enrich the reading process with an accompanying literary discussion. Highly recommended.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Running time: 6 hours 41 minutes 4 seconds