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Nina Stibbe grew up in Leicestershire before moving to London in the 1980s. She is the author of the massively acclaimed Love, Nina, and lives with her partner and children in Cornwall.
Author photo © Rebecca Dawe
A smirky, fabulously quirky, poignant novel and an absolute joy to read. It is 1980, Lizzie is 18, she starts a new job working for a dentist, moves into her own flat, and thinks she may have got herself a boyfriend (but isn’t entirely sure). Lizzie is a total delight, her courage, spirit and pithy observations mix into a heady cocktail alongside her apprehension and doubt. The other characters are beautifully realised in their own right, every utterance perfectly placed, it is difficult to pick just one out as when I called them forward in my mind, they clambered over each in a riot of energy. Nina Stibbe excels in the small, in fact the incy wincy details that are so beautifully observed you didn’t know they were missing until you read them, and could see and feel the entire picture. The understanding of human frailty and poignancy of human absurdity is so wonderfully explored. There is something compelling about the writing that lodged in my mind, and took up residence in my heart. I snorted (yes actually snorted) out loud with laughter and while heartache and break is never far away, thoroughly loved every word of Reasons To Be Cheerful which earns it one of my picks of the month… it’s just gorgeous!
My mother is not a foodie. But for as long as I can remember, once a year, she becomes possessed of a profound and desperate need to serve up a perfect roast turkey. Faced with a walk into the village though, she might think 'oh, f*** it' and decide to get a frozen one from Bejams on the 23rd and leave it to defrost in the downstairs toilet for not quite 48 hours.
Fabulously funny, sharp and yet also touching and poignant, this semi-autobiographical novel from Nina Stibbe is wonderfully captivating and engaging. Two sisters (aged 11 and 9), conclude that finding their newly divorced mother a man will lead to happiness and turnaround the distinct unwelcome the family received after moving to a new home in 1970. Stibbe writes in such a way that you feel you are there, in that very moment, helping to plot an often unwittingly devious and destructive strategy. Achingly sad, moving and outrageous in turn, this evocative well observed novel shows how children know more than we think, think more than they should and have the ability to bounce back from adversity time after time. Just a quick bit of advice; snorts, giggles and guffaws will escape at will, so think carefully before reading in public. ~ Liz Robinson
January 2015 Guest Editor Harriet Evans on Love, Nina... I need a book that gives me a warm safe glow come winter and this is that book. It is genuinely hilarious. I don’t know anyone else who has quite the same turn of phrase, sharp and surreal at the same time. It’s a series of letters written by Nina Stibbe to her sister when she was a nanny for a family in North London in the Eighties. People like Alan Bennett pop round for tea and bring casseroles. The devil is all in the detail and it’s just wonderful, you can open any page on any letter and be smiling seconds later. Winner of the Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the Specsavers National Book Awards 2014. In 1982 Nina Stibbe, a 20-year-old from Leicester, moved to London to work as a nanny for a very particular family. It was a perfect match: Nina had no idea how to cook, look after children or who the weirdos were who called round.