Author: Liam Livings
Publisher: Manifold Press
Length: 51,000 words
Darryl’s on the run – from controlling boyfriend Chris, an air-conditioner called Dave (deceased), an intolerable, claustrophobic situation and a person he just can’t be any more. The trouble is, he doesn’t have a plan – or any money – and all he knows is he needs to get away from everything. That’s where a lucky lift to Glasgow comes in, which turns out to be just the beginning of a whole new life …
“It was the heat of the summer, my inability to be comfortable in my own home, remembering things we’d talked about properly, without Chris there to correct me on my memory. All these had combined to this one feeling that I had to go. I had to leave this place and run.”
I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started this book. The reference to a ‘controlling boyfriend’ in the blurb seemed to indicate this might be a tough and darker read. But then it also talked about a ‘deceased’ air-conditioner, which definitely pointed at a sense of humour. It is always wonderful when a blurb perfectly captures both the story and the tone in which it is told; this could have been a hard and heavy story, but thanks to Darryl’s way of addressing his reading audience, this book is anything but angsty.
Darryl is a wonderful main character. He’s fully aware of the shortcomings in his life but doesn’t obsess about them. Once he decides to make his break, he’s off into the unknown, trusting that something will come his way, and boy is he right. Not only does he find safety, he also finds a group of friends who will form the family he’s never really had. Glasgow was meant to be a hiding place as far away from Chris, his domineering and older boyfriend as he can get, but instead it turns out to be home.
The book is titled Escaping From Him and while getting away from Chris is certainly the catalyst to this story, I feel that ‘Finding Himself’ would have been as appropriate a title. In fact, to me this read as a coming of age / New Adult story. Darryl was only 16 when he fled the foster system and met and moved in with Chris. Young as he was he didn’t stand a chance against Chris’s dominance and manipulation. Four years later Darryl is ready to spread his wings, to become who he was always meant to be, to learn that he can take care of himself and find his own place in the world—assuming a new first name is only the start of it.
I loved the cast of secondary characters. From the ever practical and loyal Swedish Lena, to Charlie who first introduces Darryl to the people who will form his Glaswegian family, and from Devine, the glorious drag queen to the two Gavins who are each others’ opposites and all the more perfect together for it. And Callum was just perfection both as a character and as the person Darryl needed in his life.
There were one or two moments in this book that touched me deeply, but I’ll mostly remember this book for the smiles it brought me. The chapter about the Eurovision evening especially, had me giggling and laughing out loud. I also really want to throw a ‘naff nibbles’ party now.
In short, Escaping From Him was an utterly delightful and at the same time very touching story. It would appear I have found yet another author to add to my ‘must read’ list.
Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film – and he’s been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.
One evening, flicking through the channels, he stumbled across the film, Saving Private Ryan, and it took twenty minutes of not seeing Goldie Hawn in an army uniform, before he realised it wasn’t actually the film, Private Benjamin.
He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.
When he’s not writing fiction he runs a manuscript appraisal service, provides marketing support to authors' publishers and ghostwrites other people’s books.
You can connect with Liam