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Man at the Helm | [Nina Stibbe]

Man at the Helm

Not long after her parents' separation, heralded by an awkward scene involving a wet Daily Telegraph and a pan of cold eggs, nine-year-old Lizzie Vogel, her sister and little brother and their now-divorcée mother are packed off to a small, slightly hostile village in the English countryside. Their mother is all alone, only 31 years of age, with three young children and a Labrador. It is no wonder, when you put it like that, that she becomes a menace and a drunk. And a playwright.
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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award Winner

Man at the Helm, the debut novel from Nina Stibbe - the much-loved author of Love, Nina - is a wildly comic, brilliantly sharp-eyed novel about the horrors of being an attractive divorcée in an English village in the 1970s, and a family's fall from grace....

My sister and I and our little brother were born (in that order) into a very good situation and apart from the odd new thing life was humdrum and comfortable until an evening in 1970 when my mother listened in to my father's phone call and ended up blowing her nose on a tea towel - a thing she'd only have done in an absolute emergency.

Not long after her parents' separation, heralded by an awkward scene involving a wet Daily Telegraph and a pan of cold eggs, nine-year-old Lizzie Vogel, her sister and little brother and their now-divorcée mother are packed off to a small, slightly hostile village in the English countryside. Their mother is all alone, only 31 years of age, with three young children and a Labrador. It is no wonder, when you put it like that, that she becomes a menace and a drunk. And a playwright.

Worried about the bad playwriting - though more about becoming wards of court and being sent to the infamous Crescent Home for Children - Lizzie and her sister decide to contact, by letter, suitable men in the area. In order to stave off the local social worker they urgently need to find a new Man at the Helm.

Nina Stibbe was born in Leicester. She is the author of the hugely acclaimed, Love, Nina. She now lives in Cornwall with her partner and two children. Man at the Helm is her first novel.

©2014 Nina Stibbe (P)2014 Audible Studios

What the Critics Say

"Man at the Helm, a first novel, joins on my shelf a small but joyous set of much-loved books narrated by girls… If you loved I Capture the Castle, you will love this… In Stibbe’s hands I laughed hard, page after page. Brisk, ruthless, understated, English comedy gold." (Times)
"This joyous read, full of wit and charm, will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. The glorious cast of characters includes a faithful Labrador called Debbie, a charismatic pony called Maxwell and the child-hating daily help Mrs Lunt… I am already longing for Nina Stibbe’s next book." (Cathy Rentzenbrink in the Daily Express)
"The narrator's voice is wonderful and the adults gloriously bizarre… All hail a book that's funny! This book's a winner, isn't it?" (Barbara Trapido, author of Brother of the More Famous Jack)
"I’m sure I haven’t been the only one eagerly awaiting Nina Stibbe’s follow-up. Her debut novel doesn’t disappoint … Read it and be charmed." (Independent)

"An unassuming comic genius" (Independent)
"Charming, warm-hearted and gently but irresistibly funny" (Sunday Times)
"Funny, warm, life-affirming and accutely well-observed . . . A hoot" (Metro)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 08-30-14
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 08-30-14 Member Since 2014

    Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    131
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    77
    77
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An absolutely perfect novel of wit and character"
    If you could sum up Man at the Helm in three words, what would they be?

    I want more.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Man at the Helm?

    There were many. The horse on the second floor. The boy pretending to be a dog. The children enacting their mother's play. The men. The girls.


    What does Imogen Church bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She was a superlative reader. Wonderful. Perfect cast to her voice for the various characters. Just amazingly good.


    If you could take any character from Man at the Helm out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Lizzie, of course.


    Any additional comments?

    If only there were more novels full of wit, wisdom and charm. This is so beyond the norm of the day. Stibbe reminds me a bit of Barbara Pym, as well as Trollope and even Kingsley Amis in his early days. Masterful!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-1 of 1 results
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  • Philip
    Burford, United Kingdom
    9/18/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just as good as expected"

    Love Nina has become one of my favorite (and funnniest) books. I loved Nina's first fiction, her voice recognisable from her diaries, but wonderfully telling a quite tragic tale from a child's point of view, beautifully observed with great '70's detail. And very funny. Highly recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. Phyllis A. Wolff Paley
    Dorset England
    9/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great in radio serial less good for a solid read"
    What would have made Man at the Helm better?

    well - not enough depth - but it wasn't trying to be that sort of book! great for what it was.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Claire
    Aspull, United Kingdom
    12/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent low key humour......addictive..."
    Would you listen to Man at the Helm again? Why?

    Yes definitely re readable and wouldn't say that easily


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The central character Lizzie
    Closely followed by mother


    Which character – as performed by Imogen Church – was your favourite?

    same


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    All kinds of emotions evoked but very interested in the way it was written....great style


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-3 of 3 results

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