I love this book, not only for it’s simple brilliance but also because it’s a very special souvenir from my time working at Penguin Books last year. I was also lucky enough to not only be given this copy as I was working with the publicity department that handles it, but I also met Nina Stibbe and she signed my copy (as well as providing us with some tasty jam tarts!)
I read this book really quickly the first time, so I knew what I was working on at Penguin, but now I’ve graduated (yay) and have time on my hands, I’ve really had the change to read it properly and savour it. It’s not just the simplicity of Lizzie’s voice that I enjoy, but the simplicity of the story itself.
The realism of the story and identifiable humanity in Lizzie, her siblings and her mother through the struggles and fun times of every day life are so simple and normal and yet Stibbe makes them identifiably entertaining.
The naivety of Lizzie’s narration stops this story from becoming too oppressive in her depiction of her single mother’s battle with alcoholism, depression and loneliness whilst also (whether deliberately or not) demonstrating the resilience of children in hard times, not just through moral strength, but through their hilarious innocence!
Man at the Helm is such an easy read and it honestly made me laugh out loud, any book that can do that is worth reading, and re-reading!
p.s Thanks for the jam tarts, Nina!