In Running Away From Richard, the latest novel from Chris Manby, Lizzie Jordan has just been dumped by the love of her life. He told her he didn't want her anymore. After four years. And he couldn't even give her any explanation. Welcome to the world where the heartbroken heroine is busy transforming herself from the Lady of Shallot, "abandoned and beautifully pitiful, to Lady Macbeth, "mad, obsessed, deranged". To make matters worse, her best friend is getting married, and she's bridesmaid; as she despairingly puts it: "I felt like the last remaining human being caught at a WI meeting with the Stepford Wives". Drastic situations need drastic measures so, after spending weeks crying and moping in her parents' house, Lizzie decides to ditch the emotional recriminations and get a grip, by moving to LA to become an actress.
Manby's version of the Hollywood dream is not a fairy tale romance of stardom and sparkle, instead it's a witty, wise look at nightmare situations, and the true value of friendships--of the fine but eccentric kind. Lizzie moves into a cockroach-infested house near Venice beach with Fat Joe from Balham and gets work as a waitress in Lady Boys, a transvestite bar. Through a series of mad-cap escapades and some genuine sadness she stops being a "jellyfish with no opinion on anything that doesn't relate to her or her ex-boyfriend" to someone who is "feisty and bright and opinionated"--just like this hugely enjoyable book in fact. --Eithne Farry