Looking for a light-hearted read?

Taking a break from my usual diet of treacherous-women/lecherous-men fiction, I happened on Man at the Helmby Nina Stibbe. It was just what I needed to expel the bitter aftertaste of the psychological thrillers I habitually feast upon. A charming specimen of the eccentric-British-family-novel (see these classic examples), Man at the Helm begins with ten-year-old Lizzie and her family moving to a dismal little village after her father’s affair is discovered. The children’s mother promptly falls apart, popping pills and drinking too much, leaving Lizzie and her siblings to take care of themselves, and leading them to conclude that “a man at the helm” is necessary. The inappropriate suitors they choose range from the very-married to the extremely uncouth, and many funny misadventures follow. Lizzie’s admirable attempts to bring stability to her little family are sometimes absurd, sometimes heart-breaking, and this witty and wonderfully written novel is an light, entertaining read.

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