I can't remember a book that made me laugh more . . . At times [it] reminded me of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. Man at the Helm is a winner - It even trumps Love, Nina (Observer)
[A] joyous read, full of wit and charm . . . I am already longing for Nina Stibbe's next book (Express)
A wicked anatomising of a dysfunctional family . . . Buoyantly comic: farcical yet tender; rude with a forgiving sweetness (Spectator)
Nine-year-old Lizzie (our narrator) is the perfect conduit for her creator, just the right mixture of childhood innocence and incredulity for the necessary deadpan delivery of Stibbe's particular brand of comedy. Read it and be charmed (Independent)
Fantastic. Comical, moving and brilliantly evocative of British childhood (Glamour)
A beguilingly comic blend of naivety and precociousness (Sunday Times)
Within a few pages I was completely caught up in the lives of Lizzie and her family . . . I couldn't have loved it more (Lisa Jewell)
This book is very, very funny. Stibbe has a fine eye for absurdity, and her writing has an unforced charm. [And] there is real darkness here, which makes the humour shimmer all the more (Independent on Sunday)
Convincingly childlike but also confidently witty . . . Stibbe's feat is to remain unsentimentally barbed while subtly and triumphantly demonstrating the value of the kind of understated love found within the strangest and least obviously functional families (Daily Telegraph)
From the Inside Flap
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 thirty-one 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.