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Nest by Inga Simpson
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A really beautiful book about birds, nature, art, family and how to make a life. As a bird-nerd who grew up around the areas that this is set I might be particularly biased to love it, but it's bound to appeal to anyone with a passing interest in nature writing and literary fiction. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
I like Inga Simpson's work, although I can see that some people will consider that she writes too much detail about the Australian native flora & fauna. I'm interested in that stuff so I can relate to a character who is also interested. In fact, that's a lot of the reason I like this book - I relate well to the main character. I too listen to ABC Classic FM, and I'm comfortable being on my own. I'm somewhat older than her and different gender, but I can see myself in her situation if my life had gone slightly differently. I reckon Simpson is writing from her own experience a lot, and that's why a reader can find a lot of truth in her writing. Actually, I can see that she is drawing quite heavily on real life events in the recent past, but this isn't mere reportage; Simpson is adding a layer of meaning and depth which is what makes her contribution particularly valuable. ( )
  oldblack | Dec 26, 2015 |
Jen was once an artist and a teacher, but now she spends her times watching birds and working in her gardens. Her house is surrounded by her lush sub-tropical gardens which help keep her from being disturbed by other people in the small town that she grew up in. The only person she sees regularly is Henry who comes after school for drawing lessons. However a girl in his class has gone missing, which pulls Jen back into her past where she lost both her father and best friend in the same week. Now forty years later, the town is talking about those disappearances in connection to the newly missing girl.

If I went into Nest as a book on nature writing, I may have a completely different reaction to the book. For me I went in thinking this was going to be a novel revolving around the disappearances and possibly solving the mysteries of her past and what happened to this young girl. Nest focuses mainly on a life of seclusion and the birds Jen finds within her garden. It is a quiet and even gentle novel that I did not connect with at all.

The mysteries only served as a sub-plot and no real depth went into developing it. I found Jen was very evasive and did not want to explore her past or talk about the situation. This was meant to be a way to show the damage caused by the loss of her father and best friend but it was just over done. It was a useful technique for exploring Jen’s hurt and pain but because it was used so much the mystery plot really suffered.

I know I went into the book with the wrong expectations, and I eventually did enjoy the nature writing, and the quiet and peaceful sentences. I put too much focus on the sub-plot and this really highlighted the problems I had with the novel. Inga Simpson can really write and there are some great sentence structures to be found in this novel. Nest is beautifully written and if you love nature and bird watching, this will be worth reading; just do not read this for the mystery.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://www.knowledgelost.org/literature/book-reviews/genre/contemporary/nest-by-... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Sep 26, 2015 |
I'm very grateful that the inclusion of NEST in the 2015 Ned Kelly Submissions meant that this wonderful book by Inga Simpson came to my attention. I'm not sure that I'd call this a crime novel, but it's beautiful, engaging and extremely readable.

Reflective and languidly paced, NEST sees Jen Vogel return to the bush town of her childhood. Her mother has recently died, her long-term relationship ended and Jen has returned to her "nest", to the place where she feels safe. A wildlife artist, the garden that surrounds her new home is full of the birds that she loves, and the book takes considerable time to describe the birds, their movements and her interaction with them. It's beautifully done, as is the friendship and mentoring that she builds with a young, teenage artist she is tutoring.

Lurking under the surface of this idyllic, but obviously withdrawn life, there's some past mysteries including the disappearance of a young boy Jen had been friends with as a teenager, and the current disappearance of a young girl in the community. This is obviously the "crime" aspect that triggered the inclusion of NEST in the Ned Kelly submissions, but it's not the point of the book. NEST is much more about change, loss and coming to terms with the past so that the future can be lived.

The storytelling style suits this aim perfectly. It's beautifully paced, rythmic, and full of vivid descriptions, but it's the emotion that is the most elegantly done. Whilst Jen is particularly introspective, and obviously thoughtful and reflective, there's nothing overwhelmingly melancholic about her life. She's obviously sad about a number of things, and seeking to understand much from her past, but she's connected so strongly to her garden, and the surrounding landscape that there's a wonderful feeling of hope and contentment as well. Wonderfully evocative and beautifully delivered, NEST was utterly mesmerising.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-nest-inga-simpson ( )
1 vote austcrimefiction | Jun 30, 2015 |
I loved this book, the descriptions of the Australian birds and wildlife and art work are beautiful, I'm going to recommend this book to a Twitcher friend of mine . Beautiful story of Jen and hope she copes with the loss of her relationship and the death of her Mother , the disappearance of her Father in her childhood and also the disappearance of her childhood friend Michael and then the disappearance of a school girl in her home town. Beautifully worded , i can almost picture her artwork. ( )
  Suzannie1 | Dec 3, 2014 |
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