With retirement on the horizon, her daughters out of the house, and her husband traveling for business, Cherie Johnson was looking forward to enjoying the freedom and peace of being an empty-nester. But all that changes in a single week when her older daughter, Hope, moves home after her boyfriend announces that he is moving to Italy without her. Hope has studied to be an art teacher, but in the down economy, she can’t get a teaching job. She gets by–barely–by working in a high-end dress shop and bartending. Cherie has adjusted to Hope’s situation, but she is unprepared when her husband, Dave, becomes another casualty of the economy. After twelve years as a sales representative, a corporate restructuring leaves Dave without a job. Dave could go to his mother, who heads a furniture manufacturing company, but neither he nor Cherie want to do that. Instead, Dave sends out resumes, checks employment websites, and handles the household chores–including training the little Papillon puppy that Hope brought home with her. Dave juggles this all pretty well for the first month or two, until his fruitless job search takes its toll on his spirits.
At least Cherie and Dave’s daughter Wesley is doing well. She is about to finish her nursing degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, and she has just become engaged to a nice fellow who has a good job with Apple. But with the cost of a wedding now on the horizon, Cherie realizes that she must put off retirement. At least she has coworkers who lift her spirits and gently offer advice–and so does Hope. In chapters that alternate between Cherie and Hope’s perspective, readers learn how each woman thinks and grows, and how the family rights itself. As in Mary Flinn’s other books, The Nest includes a network of family and friends populated by well drawn characters. Readers will be both exasperated and charmed by Dave’s mother, Toots, and it’s a testament to Flinn’s generosity that even Hope’s self-absorbed boyfriend Liam is not wholly dislikable.