Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fiction Review: Terms & Conditions

Frank has been in a car accident. The doctor tells him he lost his spleen, but Frank believes he has lost more. He is missing memories – of those around him, of the history they share and of how he came to be in the crash. All he remembers is that he is a lawyer who specialises in small print.

In the wake of the accident Frank begins to piece together his former life – and his former self. But the picture that emerges, of his marriage, his family and the career he has devoted years to, is not necessarily a pretty one. Could it be that the terms and conditions by which Frank has been living are not entirely in his favour?

Terms & Conditions
Glancy, Robert (2014). [Genre: Contemporary Fiction] 

Terms & Conditions is the story of Frank, a terms & conditions (i.e: the small print) lawyer, who is struggling to remember who he is after a devastating car accident. The problem is, the more he remembers the less he wants to. Turns out, his life pre-amnesia wasn't that pretty and the circumstances of his accident aren't as simplistic as he has been led to believe.

On the whole, I enjoyed Terms & Conditions. I'm a sucker for footnotes and the story has them in abundance. It's a good thing really, as they add a lighter note to a tale that verges into the depressing. Frank's life is not a simple or a happy one. He is certainly the most three-dimensional character in the story, in more ways than one. We get to see three sides of Frank: pre-accident, no-memory post-accident and memory-returned post-accident. Each comes across almost as a different character, in the best possible way. It's great character development and I really enjoyed Frank's slow realisation as to what had been happening and what he's going to do about it.

Unfortunately, the supporting characters aren't anywhere near as good, which is where the story fell down a little for me. Frank's wife Alice and brother/boss Oscar were both a little two-dimensional and especially towards the end, lacked a little humanity and strength of character. Frank's other brother Malcolm is obviously intended as more of a symbol of an alternative life path than a character, but becomes simply a catchphrase. Doug, Frank's colleague and confident, comes across as to wishy-washy to be real. And Frank's eventual love interest just develops to late to be meaningful.

That being said, I loved the narrative style - short chapters set out as 'Terms & Conditions' of life, with the interweaving of Franks three pre/post-accident perspectives. The flashbacks to Frank's childhood were well-done and at many points, far more intriguing than the depressing hole of Franks adult life.

3/5 stars. A solid debut. I doubt it will be in my top ten of 2014, but there are certainly parts of it I'll remember.

*Disclaimer: I recieved a copy of this book thanks to Bloomsbury and the Goodreads First Reads Program. All opinions are my own*


  1. I like footnotes too! I thought they were a lot of fun in Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number. This book sounds like it might be too depressing for me, but I'll think about it :)

    1. I loved the footnotes in I've Got Your Number too! To be honest, they were much better done there then in this book