Man at the Helm: Book Review

Title: Man at the Helm
Author: Nina Stibbe
Rating: 5/5

A big, brightly-coloured book, with a title that sounds suspiciously like it’s from a romance novel, and cosy domestic-looking jam tarts on the front cover. It doesn’t seem like my cup of tea, does it? I wouldn’t have thought so either, but I still pre-ordered the novel, something I never do. The thing is, I went to the Penguin Bloggers’ Night, where the author read from her book. She was wonderful, and was either genuinely interested in my (ongoing & currently in crisis) PhD or was extremely good at acting. People who are willing to pretend interest in a 75, 000-word document about skin, all in order to promote a book, must have a stellar book to promote. That was my feeling. So I got home & pre-ordered it, more because I wanted to support the author than because comfy domestic fiction about the 1970s is my natural preference. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this book is very far from being comfy domestic fiction about the 1970s. It’s full of young carers, surly farmers with shotguns, and quite a lot of drug abuse. The cosiness of the jam tarts is misleading. This brilliant debut novel made me laugh, made me absolutely livid with anger, and then, quite unexpectedly, made me cry buckets. Continue reading