Man at the Helm
by Nina Stibbe

ManAtTheHelm

Lovely story about a plucky nine-year-old, her hapless mother, and the children’s search for a new man of the house. Features a young narrator who combines artlessness and casual revelation and a droll, vivid voice.

 Opening paragraph: 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 our mother listened in to our father’s phone call and ended up blowing her nose on a tea towel—a thing she’d only have done in an emergency.

Quotes from the critics: “An extraordinarily well-written, deeply satisfying read about an unusual, highly entertaining group of people.” (Booklist); “This book is very, very funny. Stibbe has a fine eye for absurdity, and her writing has an unforced charm.” (The Independent); “A winner, a brilliant find. . . . full, free, outlandish. And I can’t remember a book that made me laugh more.” (The Guardian); “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. . . . a beguiling, often wickedly funny look at an unusual family trying to find its place in a conventional world. (Bookpage)

Bio: British author Nina Stibbe (1962 – ) “left Leicestershire for London as a teenager and after two years as a nanny she studied Humanities at Thames Polytechnic,” according to her website. “After graduating in 1987, she worked for a while in a Camden frock shop. In 1990 she began a career in book publishing, working in various departments before becoming a commissioning editor at Routledge. In 2002 she moved to Cornwall with her partner and children where she now writes, swims and makes bread.” She has also written a charming collection of letters, Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home.