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Man at the Helm
by Nina Stibbe


Overview -
A "New York Times" Notable Book of 2015
From the writer of the hugely acclaimed Love, Nina comes a sharply funny debut novel about a gloriously eccentric family.
Soon after her parents' separation, nine-year-old Lizzie Vogel moves with her siblings and newly single mother to a tiny village in the English countryside, where the new neighbors are horrified by their unorthodox ways and fatherless household.
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More About Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe
 
 
 
Overview

A "New York Times" Notable Book of 2015
From the writer of the hugely acclaimed Love, Nina comes a sharply funny debut novel about a gloriously eccentric family.
Soon after her parents' separation, nine-year-old Lizzie Vogel moves with her siblings and newly single mother to a tiny village in the English countryside, where the new neighbors are horrified by their unorthodox ways and fatherless household. Lizzie's theatrical mother only invites more gossip by spending her days drinking whiskey, popping pills, and writing plays. The one way to fit in, the children decide, will be to find themselves a new man at the helm.
The first novel from a remarkably gifted writer with a voice all her own, MAN AT THE HELM is a hilarious and occasionally heart-breaking portrait of childhood in an unconventional family.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780316286671
  • ISBN-10: 0316286672
  • Publisher: Little Brown and Company
  • Publish Date: March 2015
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Family Life
Books > Fiction > Coming of Age
Books > Fiction > Literary

 
BookPage Reviews

A family unmoored

Lizzie Vogel has grown up in what she, even at age 9, understands is “a very good situation.” She has a nice home with a nanny and a chauffeur, two siblings and a dog. Then one day, her mother learns that Lizzie’s father has had an affair. The next thing Lizzie knows, her parents have split and she has been shuffled off to live in the country with her mother, brother and sister.

Things unravel pretty quickly in this village outside of London, where Lizzie’s broken mom pops pills, drinks whiskey and writes bad plays while Lizzie and her sister attempt to keep the household running.

 “We went to our mother and asked how she thought we might cope now she was semi-conscious much of the time,” says Lizzie. “She explained that she herself was temperamentally unsuited to housework and laundry and always had been—even before the pills had kicked in.”

Clearly, there is a need for a man of the house. Lizzie and her sister start a list of eligible (or even sort of eligible) men in the village who might make their mother happy again. They try—and fail—to connect their mother with Mr. Lomax the handyman; Phil Oliphant, who likes horses; and Reverend Derek, the vicar. All the while, their mother sinks deeper into depression.

Those who have read Love, Nina, Stibbe’s wonderful 2013 memoir of nannying in London, will recognize her singularly witty voice here. While Man at the Helm is hilarious and heartfelt, it also offers a poignant peek into a not-so-distant time when women’s choices were limited and their dependence on men profound. Based on Stibbe’s childhood, Man at the Helm is a beguiling, often wickedly funny look at an unusual family trying to find its place in a conventional world.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews