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.
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.
"Breezy, sophisticated, hilarious, rude, and aching with sweetness: Love, Nina might be the most charming book I've ever read."—Maria Semple
"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
"I loved this book. What a beady eye she has for domestic life, and how deliciously fresh and funny she is - a real discovery."—Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
"Nina Stibbe is the funniest new writer to arrive in years. Love, Nina is a memoir so warm, so witty and so wise, it's like finding the friend you always deserved."—Andrew O'Hagan, author of The Missing
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