Back Road

Back RoadAuthor: Chris Gill   

ISBN 978-1-906377-58-8

Pete used to live a humdrum, nine to five existence before escaping into a world of travel, beer, study, sex and cigarette smoke. Searching for enlightenment, he instead began toiling with his ego, obsessing about gaining recognition and glory for himself. Glory on a nationwide scale, a worldwide scale! Now he teaches vulnerable adults at 14, Back Road, where he thought he had at last started to overcome the egotist inside him: instead of thinking of himself, he found he was genuinely caring about the well-being of others. Then the selfish, manipulative Deborah Styles joins the teaching staff. Gradually, Pete finds he is being dragged back into a battle against his own ego, only this time with potentially tragic results. Will tragedy be averted? Which side of his character will defeat the other? The altruist or the egotist?

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…what others have said…

Definitely an author to watch… Chris Gill has a knack for writing vivid, realistic and intriguing characters that walk off the page and make you part of their world. I really enjoyed becoming absorbed in their story, growing to care about the characters and racing to the finish to find out how the plot would conclude.
– Ella Overshott

Loved this book… By the time I was half way through I couldn’t stop. Great descriptive narrative. Also loved the paper it was written on….. good quality and smooth, a pleasure to handle. Looking forward to your next one Chris.
Sara Gidman

I’ll be sure to look out for his next… This was recommended to me by a friend, and I have to say I found it a sure, snappy, and enjoyable read – especially considering this is the author’s first published novel.
Rupan M

You will enjoy the ride… Poor Pete! Like a million and one other people, he has an existential crisis, decides he’s a lesser human being and resolves to turn his life around. He can do more! He will become a good person, a worthy person. He will save mankind single handedly! In his quest to become a sort of 21st century Albert Schweitzer he gets a job working with vulnerable adults. Fuelled with his lofty convictions, he is able to spot the charlatans, those entirely out for themselves. However, with self-deprecating irony, the thoroughly unreliable narrator also reveals his true motivations. When Styles joins the school, her behaviour disconcerts him, and like a latter day Sherlock Holmes, he seeks the clues which will expose her for what she truly is.

It’s a jolly good read, and when I got to the half way stage, I really couldn’t wait for the denouement. How would he trap her? Would she in fact get the better of him? Excellent dialogue throughout, and some of the observations about himself reminded me a little of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. I loved the quirky ending. Do not on any account be tempted to look at it first as some people do. You will appreciate this advice!

Very good story, great characters…  The darkness is undercut by humour and some snappy dialogue. I would recommend it to everyone interested in the human condition. In fact, I would just recommend it to everyone.
Andy Smith

I hear that the authors next novel is coming soon, hurry up!… Back Road has been described by Chris Gill himself, as “Gritty Realism.” The book epitomises incredibly fluent and dramatic descriptive writing, coupled with an existential internal narrative debate throughout, that draws the reader in on a personal level to the protagonist.

Pete’s existential struggle is something that I’m sure many people have battled with and will continue to question for an eternity, and Chris’ take on the world is certainly something that I have learnt from through reading Back Road.

The novel itself is dramatic and exponentially engaging, and I couldn’t put it down. The ending is fantastic, though I don’t want to say any more on that level. To top all of that, I also found myself laughing at several points throughout the book, though the novel cuts much deeper than a comedy.

Unexpected twist at the end… In the wake of the Paralympic games BACK ROAD is another timely reminder of how the vast majority of us are so very fortunate to be ‘normal’.
– Nick Richmond

Very thought provoking…  It is a brilliantly written book which made me think deeply into human nature.
What is more important, caring for others or putting ourselves first all the time.
The more I read the harder it was to put down.
– May Boothman

Excellent easy read, that has you hooked!… A very descriptive story, about ordinary people, trying to do their best for others. When the boat is rocked by a newcomer, what will the outcome be? I think everyone will be able to relate to at least one of the characters
– Jay Jo

Chris Gill writes excellent, realistic dialogue… He creates a believable world with dilemmas we can all share. He weaves humour, philosophy and plot effortlessly. Straight away, I engaged with the story and kept turning the pages.  His voice rings strongly throughout the book and he’s someone you’d have as a dinner guest.
So, yes, highly recommended and looking forward to watching this author grow.
– Ruth Estevez

…you’ll struggle to better Back Road… This book is a fusion of fast paced drama and bleak existential first person narration. For the first half we follow Pete’s dark thoughts as he tries to reconcile his disappointing current life with the once bright hopes of his future. Or is he contrasting the foolish dreams of adolescence with the current realities of a fulfilled and caring life. As we follow Pete through flashes of his past and alcohol fuelled reminiscing both he and the reader must find their own conclusion.

The second half turns into a relentlessly paced real life drama, interspersed by dark humour that cuts as deep as it makes you laugh. And as the plot races towards its climax real life and Pete’s reflection culminate in a tense finale with a twist, combining the two narrative strands to achieve an interesting and unusual climax.

…a relentlessly enjoyable read that stays with you long after you have finished the final page. 
– Mark Mitchell

An enjoyable and thought provoking read… Back Road is a down-to-earth exploration of the age old philosophical theme of egotism v altruism told in a Yorkshire accent.  Pete is the deeply flawed protagonist locked in a constant battle with his ego and against his self-destructive darker impulses.  His journey to self knowledge makes for uncomfortable and frustrating reading at times, largely due to the brutal honesty of the writing.  However, this is beautifully counterbalanced by frequent moments of humour, tenderness and poetic insight.  An altogether impressive achievement in a debut novel.
– Karen McKenzie

Brilliant…  Couldn’t put it down. Clearly written with a keen observation and while the story may be set in the north of England it describes characters and  situations which all will recognise as part of life when people are simply getting on with day to day living while displaying the gamut of flaws and perfections of human nature. Back Road would make a great TV drama.
– David Roberts