Man at the Helm: A Review

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“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.”


Man at the Helm is the story of two young girls who took the happiness of their mother into their own hands; they set out to get her a man to make her happy, and to avoid making them wards of court.

I enjoyed reading ‘Love, Nina’, and with the blurb and reviews on this book, I had high expectations. The story could have been better told in third-person narrative. So that the reader is not saddled with Lizzie’s thoughts alone the entire time. Or maybe even a little first-hand account from each child and their mother; seeing the same situation through different eyes might have worked better.
It’s a funny book; I laughed a lot, especially at how Lizzie and her family did not see the peculiarity of their situation and their family. I suppose, in a way, that made it somewhat easier for them to bear. The ‘Man List’ did more harm than good, but in the end, everyone was better for it.

The story was straightforward enough, no sub-plots or diversions. And the resolution, which you are not likely to see coming, comes up at you slowly near the end. Kind of like sunrise. I liked how the story ended, but the book didn’t live up to its hype in my opinion.