It just happened that I picked two books to read that had to do with families either born into wealth or that were expecting a large inheritance. Despite being in different time periods with one of the novels, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, taking place current day and the other novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel, taking place in the 1970s, there were many similar themes including love, ones career, motherhood, and mortality.
One of the parallels between the two novels is that money can take over ones mind and change relationships. Another is the inevitability of getting old and how one feels invisible with age. There was an eeriness to protagonist Fern in Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty and her family’s belief to take one out of one’s misery when he/she gets too old to prevent tarnishing one’s image by letting others see the deterioration. Lastly, both novels explored motherhood through women with different parenting styles (some much more involved and maternal than others) and how becoming a mother ultimately alters ones career.
I loved The Nest and I like that the Plumb family’s chase of money and final acceptance that it wasn’t coming forced them to alter the course of their lives and they ultimately became happier for it. Spoiler alert, I was still hoping that Leo would come through at the end either to see the family finally take a stand against him and officially outcast him like he had done to them or to see him repair his relationships and repay his family for what he had taken, but I was still happy with the novel regardless. I suppose in a way I did like the bittersweet ending. I enjoyed Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty as well but I didn’t like the characters or style of writing as much as Cynthia’s. I am glad that I coincidentally read both similarly themed books back to back though to compare and to see how expansive with many different directions novels can go while holding similar themes.
“Nothing was more terrifying than what familiar could do to each other.” – Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty