- Contemporary fiction
- Paperback / softback
- Publication Date:
- Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Country of origin:
- United Kingdom
- Dimensions (mm):
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an outstanding debut novel,
“Doug’s head sagged and I felt him give up on me. That feeling of people giving up on me, that’s a physical sensation now. As if we’re tied by a million soft strings and when I disappoint a few thousand strings stretch and break, as my connection to that person is severed by yet more thin slices of disappointment.”
Terms and Conditions is the first novel by Zambian-born, Malawi-raised New Zealand author, Robert Glancy. A car accident has left Franklyn Shaw with a brain injury, the immediate effect of which is total amnesia. He is apparently married to Alice, a Human Resources expert, model-thin and hard, immaculately tailored; he has an older brother, Oscar, who runs the family law firm; he has a younger brother, Malcolm, a free spirit and maybe a bit of a hippie, judging by the emails Frank receives from various Asian locales.
Assured that his memory will gradually return, Frank gently eases back into the life he apparently had before the accident. But when the memories begin to return, some are quite disturbing: the emptiness of his life is disappointing; he is dismayed by his own weak response to challenges; his marriage is not all he had hoped for; and his brother’s management of the family firm would not meet with their father’s, nor their grandfather’s, approval. And why will no one tell him about the “episode” he had before the accident?
Glancy’s characters are easily believable and realistically flawed. Most have some appeal, for all their faults, but there are two who are not difficult to despise. Of one is said: “You make my heart grow small” by a youngster with a perceptiveness belied by his years. It is this person who “…smiled a smile so thin it could slice eyeballs.” Glancy gives many of his characters words of wisdom and insightful observations about human behaviour. It is satisfying to see that the amnesiac Frank’s instinctive assessment of those he “meets” stands the test of the regained memory.
Glancy’s protagonist is a corporate lawyer specialising in the Terms and Conditions of Contracts (those bits we all ignore at our peril), so it is entirely fitting that his story takes the format of the Terms and Conditions of a Contract. It is divided into Clauses (rather than chapters) and the Terms and Conditions come (of course) with footnotes, although when those footnotes generate footnotes of their own, which also generate footnotes, the eyesight of readers of a certain vintage is bound to be challenged. (Footnote: Are you wearing your glasses? OK, then good lighting and a magnifying glass may be needed.) But it is worth the effort to read every one of those footnotes.
Glancy wraps his tale in some wonderful descriptive prose. This is an outstanding debut novel, full of humour and wit, moving and ultimately uplifting. Readers who enjoy it will be pleased to know that Glancy has written a second novel, Please Do Not Disturb.