Nina Stibbe’s debut novel follows her successful epistolary memoir, Love, Nina, and I truly believe this book should be received with the same acclaim.
Following a far from pleasant divorce, Lizzie and her siblings move out to a village with their ponies, dog (Princess Debbie Reynolds) and their play writing, whisky drinking and initially purposeless mother in tow. The fear of becoming ‘wards of court’ leads them to the need for a plan and the plan that forms is to find the most appropriate man to be ‘at the helm’ of their family.
Set in the 1970’s and told from the perspective of the middle child, Lizzie, this book is laugh out loud funny. We follow the family from wealth and village exile to poverty and begrudging acceptance in addition to the ups and downs of their mother’s dalliances with men both on and off the ‘man list’.
Although a little slow initially I did end up reading the second half in one sitting and by that point I had a real emotional attachment to this slightly mad family and their array of worries, upsets and life’s idiosyncrasies.