Man at the Helm

A Novel
By Nina Stibbe (Hardcover Book, 2015)
Born into a posh family, ten-year old Lizzie Vogel has lived a charmed life thus far, with a big sister who knows everything, a cute baby brother, and a full-time housekeeper who bakes jam tarts. But when, in 1970, Lizzie's father abandons her mother and packs his ex-family off to the tiny village of Flatstone, life for the Vogels veers catastrophically off-course. The new neighbors disapprove of divorcees and fatherless children, and Lizzie's theatrical mother provides constant grist for the gossip mill, letting the laundry pile up like Mount Sinai and spending her days drinking whiskey, popping pills and writing plays about how sad she is. Before long the family is shunned by village society.

Deciding that only a "man at the helm" will restore order to their household, Lizzie and her sister take it upon themselves to secure a new husband for their mother. As the two girls make their way down a list of candidates that includes a charming con-artist, an idiotic vicar, and several married men, Lizzie confronts the downright craziness of grown-up love and learns that sometimes a family needs to veer catastrophically off-course in order to find true happiness.
  • Little, Brown and Company
    • Format: Hardcover Book

    • Price: $25.00 US

    • ISBN-13: 9780316286671

    • On Sale Date: 03/10/2015

    • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

    • Imprint: Little, Brown and Company

    Formats Available: Hardcover Book, Electronic Book

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Born into a posh family, ten-year old Lizzie Vogel has lived a charmed life thus far, with a big sister who knows everything, a cute baby brother, and a full-time housekeeper who bakes jam tarts. But when, in 1970, Lizzie's father abandons her mother and packs his ex-family off to the tiny village of Flatstone, life for the Vogels veers catastrophically off-course. The new neighbors disapprove of divorcees and fatherless children, and Lizzie's theatrical mother provides constant grist for the gossip mill, letting the laundry pile up like Mount Sinai and spending her days drinking whiskey, popping pills and writing plays about how sad she is. Before long the family is shunned by village society.

Deciding that only a "man at the helm" will restore order to their household, Lizzie and her sister take it upon themselves to secure a new husband for their mother. As the two girls make their way down a list of candidates that includes a charming con-artist, an idiotic vicar, and several married men, Lizzie confronts the downright craziness of grown-up love and learns that sometimes a family needs to veer catastrophically off-course in order to find true happiness.

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.



  • "Man at the Helm is a winner- a brilliant find....It is full, free, outlandish. And I can't remember a book that made me laugh more. [Stibbe] doesn't take anything seriously. Or rather, she does, and yet her eye and ear for the absurd never desert her- they are part of who she is." (The Guardian).

  • "Some of the most perceptive writing I've read about relationships in a while....this book is very, very funny. Stibbe has a fine eye for absurdity, and her writing has an unforced charm." (The Independent).

  • "[A] joyous read, full of wit and charm . . . I am already longing for Nina Stibbe's next book." (The Observer).

  • "an impressive first novel, a combination of P. G. Wodehouse pacing and the eccentricity of Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals (1956). An extraordinarily well-written, deeply satisfying read about an unusual, highly entertaining group of people." ( Booklist).

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  • PRAISE FOR LOVE, NINA:

    "I adored this book, and I could quote from it forever. It's real, odd, life-affirming, sharp, loving...and I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud so frequently while reading." (Nick Hornby, The Believer).

  • "Breezy, sophisticated, hilarious, rude, and aching with sweetness: Love, Nina might be the most charming book I've ever read." (Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette).

  • "These letters are winning from the start...we simply like being in Ms. Stibbe's company." (Dwight Garner, The New York Times).

  • "You'll find yourself laughing out loud but also touched by the book's depiction of family as it should be: people bound not just by blood but by shared affinities, humor and unfailing interest in hearing the answer to the question, 'How was your day?'" (Kim Hubbard, People).

  • "I must MOST EARNESTLY recommend Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe. It's the most piss-funny thing I've read all year. I can't remember a book since Adrian Mole that so brilliantly, drily nailed day-to-day life in BRILLIANT, faux-naive prose." (Caitlin Moran, author of How to Build a Girl).

  • "I have never laughed so hard reading a book. Nina Stibbe's recollections of life as a London nanny are both hilarious and heartwarming." (J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine and The Engagements).

  • enchanting. It's one of the funniest┬żand oddest┬żbooks I've read in a long time.... [Stibbe's letters] are perceptive and droll, and provide a glimpse into the domestic life of a fascinating literary family."  (Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal).

Formats

Product Details

Man at the Helm
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Price: $25.00 US
  • Pages: 320
  • Physical Dimensions: 5-1/2" x 8-1/4"
  • ISBN-13: 9780316286671
  • On Sale Date: 03/10/2015
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